YouTube is not Short on SimSim

Also in today's edition: Swiggy closes big, IT hiring spree, and InMobi to buy Xandr?

Good morning! He’s in space. Another billionaire is in space. It is the flight of firsts. Jeff Bezos is the first founder of a space company outside earth, he is accompanied by an 82-year-old who is the oldest person in space and an 18-year-old who is the youngest person in space. There is also Bezos’ brother. He is not the first in anything here.

Anyway, on to the day’s stories:

  1. Crypto is crashing. Again. Why?

  2. The government is stubbing out its investment in ITC.

  3. Your clothes are going to be slightly damp.

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Bears Tear Into Crypto

Global markets are drowning in a sea of red. That stubborn virus just refuses to go away and keeps mutating into worse avatars. This means more lockdowns and restrictions that choke economic activity and stall growth. Meanwhile, oil prices are dropping. The resultant scent of fear is bringing the market ‘bears’ out to play.

Crypto crumble: Bitcoin, trading at less than half its all-time highs, dipped below $30,000 a token. This dragged the rest of the market down with it, and $90 billion in investor fortunes.

Stock slide: Indian indices saw their largest single-day drop in nearly three months on Monday and slid further yesterday. All other notable Asian indices also closed in the red yesterday. US indices registered their largest single-day drop since October on Monday. 

Of course, many equity indices (including the Indian and US benchmarks) are around their all-time highs. So a technical correction was also on the cards.

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Japan’s Uncertain Post-Fukushima Coming Out Party

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics (in 2021) will be up and running Friday. What was originally billed as a show of Japanese post-Fukushima resilience, has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the host city in a state of emergency, the backdrop for the $30 billion Games couldn't be any grimmer. There won’t be spectators either, a first in the Games’ modern history. While the thrill might be fading, the show must go on.

The pande-lympics: The buildup to Friday’s opening ceremony has been far from ideal. As of today, 71 accredited people tested positive for Covid-19. Some athletes pulled out after their test results. A Covid-19 cluster emerged too at a bubble hotel with Brazilian athletes.

Not attending: Corporate boxes of elite Japanese businesses will be empty. Leaders from companies such as Toyota, Meiji, Asahi, Fujitsu, NTT, and NEC won’tattend the opening ceremony. Global sponsor Toyota has gone a step further. It will not air local TV ads during the Games due to lacklustre local support. So will not tyremaker Bridgestone.

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YouTube’s In Love With SimSim

When reports emerged that YouTube had bought simsim (no caps, that's how they like it) for $70 million it didn’t raise too many eyebrows, a deal done at less than 50% premium. It’s a very important deal because this may be when social commerce grows up.

Why YouTube: That YouTube is taking the plunge into social (and live) commerce shouldn't come as a surprise. It launched shoppable ads in 2019 and began testing integrations with Shopify last year while also nudging creators to tag objects in their videos. It recently hosted an SMB summit in the US, with “live shopping experiences.” 

The creator play: simsim enables it to roll out that strategy in India, especially with TikTok-competitor Shorts, which the company claims is a success in India. 

The competition: There’s obviously some FOMO, especially with Instagram and Amazon doubling down on the space. Closer home, DealShare raised capital not once but twice this year. Meesho has managed to get not just Facebook but also Softbank on its captable. Flipkart is dabbling with social commerce as well. 

The Signal

E-commerce has become synonymous with online shopping. But ticket sizes shrink deeper into the country and it takes more time and money to convince users to trust the platform and the product. An influencer who looks and talks like them is a good ally. 

simsim came at a time when TikTok was booming, e-commerce companies were still finding it hard to crack pin codes, and transactions were barely picking up. In came a live streaming-based shopping app. Now replay all of that with YouTube or YouTube Shorts as the base platform on which creators and sellers use video to sell their stuff with Google’s payment app as the transaction layer. That’s the trifecta YouTube may be aiming for with simsim. Or who knows, maybe a tip.

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Your Clothes May Have a Sea Problem

Rising sea levels may drown several Asian garment makers by the end of the decade. An International Labour Organisation analysis found that major apparel-producing zones are located in low-lying areas that could be flooded by 2030.

Why no attention? The apparel industry has been at the centre of climate change discussions. While talks have focussed on the industry’s growing need for freshwater, the impact of rising sea levels is barely acknowledged.

Need to get moving: One solution, albeit not an option for everyone, is to switch bases. Big multinationals may be able to move to higher ground but small producers in countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam won’t withstand the disruption.

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The Government Quits Smoking

After dilly-dallying for more than two decades, the government appears to be on the threshold of selling its 7.93% stake in ITC. The stake worth INR 202.5 billion is held in the Specified Undertaking of the Unit Trust of India.

Divestment pressure: For years, the government held on to the shares because it was wary of the other major shareholder, British American Tobacco, increasing its grip on the tobacco-to-hospitality conglomerate. It now appears to have bitten the bullet to meet its INR 1.75 trillion disinvestment target. It is also selling shares worth INR 7 billion in Bharat Petroleum Corporation and floating an IPO of Life Insurance Corporation.

More money: The government is planning to allow pension funds to invest in IPOs and the top 200 companies by market capitalization, increasing funds flow into the primary and secondary markets.

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What Else Made The Signal? 

Food goes big: Swiggy has raised $1.25 billion capital from investors led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Prosus Ventures. The new funding puts the Bengaluru-based startup’s valuation at $5.5 billion.

Hiring spree: If you’re new in the IT services sector, there’s some good news for you. The industry, including biggies like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, HCL Technologies and Wipro, will hire over 150,000 fresh graduates this year.

5G < 319T: Scientists at Japan's National institute of Information and Communications Technology have set a new internet speed record at 319Tbps. That's almost twice the previous record of 179Tbps set in August 2020.

Breathing solved: There’s a new 3D robotic artificial lung available in the market that can replicate the organ’s breathing motion to check radiation levels used in radiation therapy. It’s been developed by a group of Indian scientists. 

Fire sale: AT&T is reportedly in discussions to sell its mismanaged, loss-making ad unit, Xandr, to Indian ad-tech giant InMobi.

10x Covid death: India’s excess deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic could be 10 times the official toll, with upto 4.7 million deaths, says the Washington-based Center for Global Development.

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Fun Signals

Rocking names: Who wants to name their kids James, John, or Robert when you can name them Metallica, Pantera, and Slayer? A mom in New Zealand christenedher kids after the metal bands and said it wouldn’t be easy to raise “three of the heaviest bands”.

The Peppa Effect: Cartoons are the best way to learn. Children’s show Peppa Pigis teaching kids in America to be smarter and surprisingly, British. During the pandemic, binge-watching the show has improved children’s vocabulary and given them a cool accent, just like the namesake lead character. 

So you think you can dance? You’ve got competition to get groovy – there are robots from Boston Dynamics that can really move it. And boy, can they dance! A viral Twitter video shows three robots dancing to Do You Love Me by the Contours. Of course, even Elon Musk tweeted about it.

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