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Elon Musk’s Starlink: An Emerging Threat to Reliance Jio and Airtel’s Dominance in India?

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Starlink in India

The dominance of Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel in India’s telecom sector is poised to be challenged by a global company owned by Elon Musk. We are talking about Starlink. Elon Musk’s visit to India is reportedly scheduled for April 21, 2024. During his 48-hour stay in the country, the billionaire will make significant announcements. This announcement includes the launch of Starlink, an affordable satellite-based internet service provided by SpaceX.

The potential launch of Starlink in India is seen as an emerging threat to Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea, which collectively hold over 90% of the broadband market share.

However, the question remains: Can Starlink easily overthrow the established positions of Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio, Bharti Airtel or even Vodafone India? Let’s find out!

Starlink’s satellite-based approach offers internet access in remote and underserved areas where traditional terrestrial networks may be lacking. This could be a significant advantage over Jio and Airtel, particularly in rural and less-developed regions. According to media reports, the regulatory approvals for Starlink’s license are progressing well, indicating that the service may soon become operational in India.

In terms of customer base, Starlink has already amassed over 2.6 million customers globally as of March 2024, highlighting its growing popularity. However, compared to India’s top telecommunications companies like Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea, Starlink’s customer base is relatively smaller.

Reliance Jio Infocom Ltd leads the Indian wireless broadband market with an impressive 467.59 million subscribers as of February 2024. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea closely follow this with 262.03 million and 126.55 million wireless broadband subscribers, respectively.

The other two broadband service providers, BSNL, has 20.70 million, and Intech Online Pvt. Ltd. has 0.24 million mobile subscribers in India.

Despite its smaller user base, Starlink has the potential to attract more customers in India, especially from tier 2 and 3 cities. This is mainly due to the fact that India is a price-sensitive country, where affordability often outweighs quality considerations. This was evident when Reliance Jio disrupted the market in 2016 by offering free internet and calling services, attracting customers away from established giants like Airtel and Vodafone Idea.

Similarly, Starlink’s focus on affordability and unlimited high-speed data without long-term contracts or commitments is likely to appeal to Indian consumers. While the cost of Starlink services in India is not yet known, in the US, basic Starlink Wi-Fi for rural homes costs $120 per month for unlimited internet, with other data plans available. Users enjoy download speeds up to 220 Mbps, with most experiencing speeds over 100 Mbps.

However, Starlink’s internet service is currently available only in limited areas where satellite coverage exists. Deploying a satellite constellation to provide internet service worldwide is a complex and gradual process. It requires launching and positioning a large number of satellites in orbit to achieve consistent coverage across different parts of the globe. This extensive deployment process takes time and resources.

Therefore, Starlink is unlikely to pose an immediate threat to any of the broadband service providers in India, at least not in the next two years.

Last December, the Indian government passed The Telecommunications Bill 2023, which allows for the allocation of spectrum for satellite-based services without the requirement of participating in auctions. This legislative change is particularly advantageous for companies like OneWeb, Starlink (owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX), and Amazon’s Kuiper, streamlining their ability to operate and expand satellite services in India.

In conclusion, Starlink’s entry into the Indian market is most likely to attract a segment of consumers seeking affordable and reliable internet. However, it will likely face stiff competition and challenges from established players like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel. Although Mukesh Amabi-led Reliance Industries is exploring a potential partnership with Tesla for electric vehicle manufacturing in India, it remains uncertain how these two companies will interact in the broadband market.

What are your thoughts on the Starlink launch in India, and should it be a concern for Jio and Airtel? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Elon Musk and Mukesh Ambani Are Joining Hands? A Game-Changing Alliance to Leave Competitors in the Dust

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Tesla Reliance deal in EV India

When the world’s two most powerful and influential business tycoons join hands, something really enormous is supposed to happen. Isn’t it? We are talking about Elon Musk and Mukesh Ambani. Their respective companies, Tesla and Reliance, are reportedly in discussions for a potential joint venture to establish an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing facility in India. If this groundbreaking partnership comes to fruition, it will redefine the automotive industry not only in India but globally.

Insiders familiar with the matter have revealed that discussions between Tesla and Reliance have been underway for over a month at the early stages.

It’s important to highlight that Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) is not entering the automotive sector solely as a business expansion strategy. Instead, RIL’s primary objective in partnering with Tesla is to spearhead the development of electric vehicle capabilities in India, its homegrown market.

Through this partnership, RIL aims to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of electric mobility in India. The goal is to contribute significantly to the growth and adoption of electric vehicles, while simultaneously driving sustainability and technological progress in the automotive industry.

“India should have electric cars just like every other country. It’s a natural progression to provide Tesla electric vehicles in India,” said Elon Musk.

New Policy to Boost EV Manufacturing in India

The Ministry of Heavy Industries (MHI) recently unveiled a new policy aimed at accelerating electric vehicle manufacturing in India by enticing global players like Tesla, BYD, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Under this policy, companies committing to invest at least $500 million (Rs 4,150 crore) in setting up a manufacturing plant within three years will benefit from reduced import taxes on certain EVs.

The policy proposes a significant reduction in import duties for interested global EV manufacturers, lowering the tariff to 15% from the current 70% or 100% for vehicles with a CIF (cost, insurance, and freight) value of $35,000 and above. This reduced duty structure will be applicable for a period of five years from the date of issuance of the government’s approval letter. Notably, this proposed duty structure aligns closely with the demands previously made by Tesla, led by Elon Musk, during discussions with the Indian government.

Progress on Tesla’s Entry into India

Media reports suggest that Maharashtra and Gujarat have offered appealing land proposals to Tesla for establishing its EV manufacturing facility. Simultaneously, discussions with the Telangana government are reportedly progressing towards a similar arrangement with the EV giant. The proposed facility, anticipated to attract investments ranging from $2 billion to $3 billion, is aimed at meeting the demand for Tesla’s electric vehicles both in India and internationally.

Tesla has also started producing right-hand drive (RHD) vehicles at its facility in Germany. These vehicles are intended for export to India later this year, indicating Tesla’s advancement toward potential entry into the world’s third-largest automotive market.

EV Market in India

The rising demand for electric vehicles in India is evident from the significant growth observed in 2023. Despite the 10% YoY growth in passenger vehicle (PV) sales in the country, the sales of electric cars nearly doubled, indicating a significant shift towards electric mobility.

This surge in EV adoption in India can be attributed to various factors, including increasing interest among urban consumers, government initiatives promoting electric mobility, ongoing infrastructure development, and heightened concerns about climate change. However, EVs accounted for only 2% of the overall PV sales in India in 2023, according to Counterpoint Research.

In 2023, Tata Motors maintained a dominant position in India’s EV market, capturing more than two-thirds of the market share. However, the brand has witnessed a notable decline of 17 percentage points in its market share within a single year due to stiff competition from Mahindra & Mahindra and BYD.

The demand for EV cars is poised to skyrocket in the next five years as more companies are betting big on India, mainly due to its status as the world’s most populous country. There is a big window of opportunity for new players to establish themselves and capitalize on this growing EV market.

In conclusion, the proposed joint venture between Tesla and Reliance, coupled with the government’s supportive policies to boost EV manufacturing, signifies a transformative shift in India’s automotive sector. The entry of Reliance and Tesla into India’s EV market will undoubtedly give all competitors a run for their money. With major players committed to investing in local manufacturing, the stage is set for rapid growth and innovation in electric mobility.

Are you excited about the potential impact of Tesla and Reliance’s collaboration on India’s electric vehicle market? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Why Ola & Uber’s Subscription Plans Might Leave Tax Authorities Scratching Their Heads?

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Ola Uber Subscription for Auto

The competition in India’s dynamic ride-hailing market is heating up with each passing year, prompting companies to explore innovative strategies to attract customers. In a bid to expand their market share, Ola and Uber are taking a page from the playbook of their rivals like Namma Yatri and Rapido. They’ve introduced subscription-based plans for auto-rickshaw drivers on their platforms, eliminating the need for booking fees or transaction commissions.

In particular, Ola has recently rolled out a subscription model for auto-rickshaw drivers in key markets such as Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad. On the other hand, Uber launched it in more than six cities, including Chennai, Kochi, and Visakhapatnam.

How Ola, Uber Subscription Work

Now, let’s understand how Ola and Uber’s subscription plans work for auto drivers.

Under the traditional commission-based fee structure, Ola and Uber collect a percentage of each ride fare as a commission or booking fee, with the remainder passed on to driver partners.

However, with the new subscription model, these platforms charge a fixed daily or weekly fee to driver partners for unlimited ride access, granting them an unlimited number of rides without additional charges. This approach aims to provide drivers with more predictable earnings and incentivize increased use of the platforms.

But what motivates Ola and Uber to adopt this subscription model? Well, one key implication of this model is its potential impact on tax liabilities.

By shifting from a commission-based fee structure to a subscription-based one, Ola and Uber may be strategically navigating tax regulations, particularly the 5% goods and services tax (GST) typically levied on auto-rickshaw rides arranged through their platforms. This strategic manoeuvre could offer financial benefits to both the platforms and their driver partners.

However, the launch of subscription plans by Ola and Uber could indeed result in disputes with tax authorities, primarily due to uncertainties surrounding the applicability of a specific advance tax ruling issued in September 2023. This ruling exempted Namma Yatri from the obligation to collect and remit Goods and Services Tax (GST), but its extension to other platforms remains unclear.

The 5% GST mandated under Section 9(5) of the Central GST Act imposes tax collection responsibilities on companies operating in ride-hailing, food-delivery, and online retail marketplaces. These companies are required to collect and remit taxes on behalf of the service providers listed on their platforms, which include drivers, restaurants, and sellers.

“If an operator connects a driver to a passenger, by that alone, they do not become liable to pay tax. The element is supply being made through them, which also needs to be fulfilled. So, unless other companies are able to get factually out of supply not being made through them or controlled through them, Section 9(5) (of CGST Act) will most likely apply,” said Abhishek Jain, national head and partner, indirect taxes, at KPMG in India.

Benefits and Challenges With Subscription Models

According to executives familiar with the subscription model, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with its implementation. One notable benefit highlighted is the concept of loss aversion. By paying a fixed amount per day, such as Rs 30, drivers may feel more committed and engaged with the platform, thereby enhancing driver retention and overall participation.

However, a key drawback mentioned is the potential loss of control over pricing by the platform. With a subscription model, drivers have more flexibility in setting their own rates for rides, which could impact the platform’s ability to standardize pricing and manage profitability.

Another viewpoint from a Bengaluru-based executive highlights the competitive dynamics fueled by younger companies embracing the subscription model in the ride-hailing industry. These smaller platforms are strategically leveraging subscription-based approaches to aggressively attract and onboard drivers, thereby establishing a strong and diverse supply base. This strategy poses a direct challenge to larger incumbents that have historically maintained control over pricing and commission structures.

The adoption of subscription models by Ola, Uber, and Rapido reflects a broader trend in the industry where ride-hailing platforms are seeking innovative ways to enhance driver engagement, optimize revenue streams, and navigate regulatory complexities. What are your thoughts on this shift towards subscription-based services? Let us know in the comment section below!

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Rise of Zero-Day Vulnerabilities: Enterprise Software Now a Prime Target for Hackers With 64% YoY Surge

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zero day vulnerability attack

In the fast-paced world of cybersecurity, “zero-day” vulnerabilities loom as a formidable challenge for tech giants investing billions in enhancing user experiences. These vulnerabilities are mostly software flaws that developers fail to detect, leaving no immediate patches or fixes available to protect against potential exploitation. According to a recent report, “Google’s Threat Analysis Group,” the year 2023 witnessed a significant rise in the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities.

To be precise, the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities increased a notable 56.5% YoY, from 62 in 2022 to 97 in 2023. However, this number fell short of the record set in 2021, when 106 zero-day vulnerabilities were observed being exploited.

The surge in vulnerability exploitation suggests that hackers are becoming more aggressive and adept at discovering and using vulnerabilities to launch cyberattacks.

As these vulnerabilities are exploited, Commercial Surveillance Vendors (CSVs) emerge as key players in the cyber threat ecosystem. In 2023, CSVs were responsible for 75% of known zero-day exploits targeting Google products and Android ecosystem devices, comprising 13 out of 17 vulnerabilities. These CSVs specialize in selling spyware capabilities to government clients for surveillance activities.

Out of the 37 zero-day vulnerabilities exploited in browsers and mobile devices in 2023, more than 60% were attributed to Commercial Surveillance Vendors (CSVs).

Attackers have also increased their efforts to exploit vulnerabilities within third-party components and libraries. This strategy was chosen because exploiting these vulnerabilities could potentially impact multiple products simultaneously.

Threat actors across various motivations actively sought out vulnerabilities in products or components that offered broad access to multiple targets, reflecting a scalable and effective approach to launching attacks.

It is important to note that there was a whopping 64% YoY increase in the number of vulnerabilities targeted by hackers in enterprise-specific technologies during 2023. This trend was further evidenced by the widening range of enterprise vendors targeted since at least 2019, largely due to the exploitation of security software and appliances.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) maintained its position as a leader in government-backed exploitation. PRC cyber espionage groups exploited 12 zero-day vulnerabilities in 2023, which marked an increase from seven exploits observed in 2022. This number exceeded those attributed to any other state, continuing a trend that has been ongoing for multiple years.

Payouts for Vulnerability Exploits

In response to the heightened risk posed by zero-day vulnerabilities, Crowdfense, a prominent vulnerability research hub, has been offering substantial rewards to skilled hackers over the past few years. The bug bounty program, initially announced at $10 million in 2019, has now increased to $30 million this year.

Hackers are encouraged to identify previously undiscovered vulnerabilities in various platforms and products, including Android devices, popular browsers like Chrome and Safari, and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and iMessage. This initiative aims to incentivize researchers to uncover critical vulnerabilities in widely-used technologies, thereby enhancing cybersecurity and protecting users’ data.

Interestingly, the payouts for successful submissions vary based on the nature and impact of the vulnerability discovered. For instance, Crowdfense is offering the highest rewards for iPhone exploits.

  • Zero-click exploit targeting SMS/MMS functionality on a device: from $7 million to $9 million
  • Zero-click exploit targeting iOS devices: From $5 million to $7 million
  • Zero-click exploit targeting Android devices: $5 million
  • Zero-click exploit targeting both WhatsApp and iMessage: from $3 to $5 million
  • Zero-click exploit targeting the Chrome browser (RCE + SBX + LPE): $1.5 million
  • Zero-click exploit targeting the Safari browser (RCE + SBX + LPE): $500,000
  • Zero-click exploit targeting the Microsoft Windows operating system(RCE + LPE): $2 million

Government security agencies often require sophisticated hacking tools to track and investigate criminal activities or threats posed by malicious actors. As a result, companies like Crowdfense sell exploits, including zero-day vulnerabilities, to various organizations, including government agencies. These proactive efforts are essential for safeguarding sensitive data, protecting systems from cyber threats, and maintaining the integrity of digital environments within an ever-evolving threat landscape.

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Global Tech Layoffs in 2024: Over 57,000 Job Losses and Counting

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India Startup Unicorn Layoffs 2024

The global tech industry continues to grapple with workforce reductions, extending the challenges faced in 2023 into 2024. Prominent players such as Amazon, Apple, Dell, Byju’s, Expedia, and Cisco have executed significant layoffs across departments. Data from Layoffs.fyi reveals the magnitude of the situation: a total of 57,785 employees have been laid off in Q1 2024.

In January alone, 121 companies downsized their workforce by 34,007 individuals. This is followed by 15,589 employees fired by 74 companies in February, and 8,735 job losses in over 50 companies worldwide. This ongoing trend is attributed to various factors, such as the aftermath of pandemic-induced overhiring, fundraising challenges, strategic realignments, segment closures, and other efficiency initiatives taken by tech companies.

Biggest Layoffs at Tech Companies 2024

Amidst this landscape of industry-wide layoffs, several major tech companies have made significant cuts to their workforce.

Apple has recently made headlines by laying off approximately 600-700 employees in California. This decision primarily stems from the shutdown of its self-driving electric Apple Car and smartwatch display projects. However, the recent layoff figure is not even 1% of the company’s total workforce, which stood at 161,000 employees reported by the end of fiscal 2023, ending September 30, 2023.

After a decade of investing over $10 billion in the Apple Car project, Apple announced its closure by February end. The decision to cancel the project was reportedly influenced by executive indecision regarding its direction and financial viability.

Another major layoff in 2024 occurred at Dell Technologies, where 6,000 employees were let go in March. This reduction contributed to a larger trend as the company’s total employee count decreased by 13,000, from 133,000 in February 2023 to 120,000 in February 2024. One of the primary factors contributing to these layoffs at Dell was the prolonged period of sluggish demand for personal computers worldwide, spanning nearly two years. Dell witnessed a notable 19.6% YoY decline in its PC shipments, totalling 40 million in 2023. The decline in shipments had increased from 2022 when the company reported a 16.1% YoY drop.

Throughout Fiscal 2024, Dell Technologies implemented various cost-cutting measures to address these challenges. These measures included limitations on external hiring, reorganizations of employees, and other strategic actions aimed at aligning investments with the company’s announced strategic and customer priorities. As a result of these efforts, there was a reduction in the overall headcount.

Amazon also slashed hundreds of jobs in its cloud computing division last month. This latest round of layoffs is expected to impact sales and marketing employees, as well as the team responsible for developing technology for brick-and-mortar stores.

Amazon’s ongoing reduction in headcount comes after a period of extensive layoffs lasting over a year. Starting at the end of 2022 and extending into 2023, Amazon initiated its largest-ever round of layoffs, eliminating more than 27,000 positions across nearly every sector of the company. Additionally, throughout this year, the e-commerce giant has implemented layoffs in various units, including Twitch, Audible, Buy with Prime, Prime Video and MGM Studios.

Byju’s, once regarded as India’s most valuable edtech company, has also been facing financial challenges for quite a long time now, leading to the layoff of approximately 500 employees in March 2024. In recent months, the company has experienced an escalating HR crisis, resulting in doubts about its sustainability and prompting around 1,500 employees to voluntarily leave.

This has significantly reduced Byju’s employee count, which currently stands at around 13,000, down from nearly 15,000 at the end of 2023. These layoffs are attributed to a restructuring initiative taken by the edtech company due to a severe funding crisis, investor dissatisfaction, and underlying factors.

In a Nutshell

As tech companies navigate through uncertain times, the road ahead appears challenging. The rapid adoption of AI technologies has also emerged as a significant factor prompting companies to fire their underperforming employees, given that AI tools can now effectively carry out their tasks. However, there is still a big window of opportunity for job seekers as companies actively seek skilled professionals across the sector.

At the organizational level, companies must prepare themselves better for unforeseen situations by drafting employee-friendly policies and implementing strategies to navigate crises without resorting to substantial layoffs.

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Amazon Prioritizes Customer Experience in Large Grocery Stores: Fully Embracing Feature-Rich Dash Carts

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Amazon Dash Carts on Amazon Fresh stores

In the era of seamless retail experiences, Amazon has continually led the charge, revolutionizing the way we shop through innovative technologies. In the latest move, the tech giant is replacing “Just Walk Out” technology with “Dash Cart” in all larger physical grocery stores. This smart shopping cart, launched in September 2020, enables customers to bypass the checkout line and keep track of their spending in real time.

Amazon’s decision to fully transition from Just Walk Out to Dash Cart technology is limited to Amazon Fresh stores, the company’s grocery outlets in Seattle, Washington. Amazon Go stores, smaller convenience stores, will not be affected as of now. The company has confirmed that out of the over 40 Amazon Fresh stores in the United States, 27 currently equipped with Just Walk Out technology will soon transition to Amazon Dash Cart.

Additionally, Amazon plans to expand the technology to more third-party retailers. Currently, there are over 130 third-party locations in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada employing Just Walk Out technology, with new locations launching monthly. These encompass various settings such as travel retailers, sports stadiums, entertainment venues, conference centers, theme parks, convenience stores, hospitals, and college campuses.

Amazon Dash Cart in Grocery Stores

For those unfamiliar with “Just Walk Out” technology, it enables customers to shop and leave without the hassle of going to a register. In this system, artificial intelligence (AI) technology handles the task of sending customers their receipts after they have taken items off the shelves and exited the store. However, with the introduction of the new innovative Dash Cart, Amazon customers will now be able to scan their items as they shop and view their total expenditure and potential savings directly on a screen, as detailed in Amazon’s announcement.

The Dash Cart incorporates a blend of computer vision and sensor fusion to identify items placed inside it. Customers can simply pick up an item, scan it using one of the Dash Cart cameras, and place it in the cart as they normally would. Upon completing their shopping, there’s no need to queue at the checkout line. Instead, customers proceed through the designated Dash Cart lane and exit the store effortlessly. Moreover, customers retain the option to check out with a cashier or use self-checkout lanes, Amazon clarified.

Launched in 2018, Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology in its retail stores proved to be a game-changer in terms of customer shopping experiences. However, after just five years, Amazon has made the surprising decision to phase out this technology from its Amazon Fresh stores. So, what’s behind this sudden shift in strategy?

The answer lies in the increasing time consumption associated with the Just Walk Out system. The process involved outsourced workers based in India, who reportedly spent hours compiling tracked data to generate receipts for customers, often received much later.

A recent report by Business Insider revealed that despite Amazon’s claims of relying solely on computer vision for its ‘Just Walk Out’ technology, human workers in India were secretly involved in the process. Approximately 1,000 workers in India were responsible for reviewing customers’ actions, such as what items they picked up, put down, and ultimately walked out with from the Just Walk Out-enabled stores.

According to The Information, around 700 out of every 1,000 Just Walk Out transactions in 2022 required verification by these workers. However, Amazon’s spokesperson disputed this claim, stating that the India-based team primarily assisted in training the model used for Just Walk Out. The spokesperson added that associates might occasionally validate a small number of shopping visits where the computer vision technology cannot confidently determine an individual’s purchases.

Amazon Prioritizing Customer Satisfaction

In an email, Amazon stated that it decided to discontinue the technology, which is utilized in Amazon Fresh and Amazon Go stores, in response to customer feedback.

“We’ve invested a lot of time redesigning a number of our Amazon Fresh stores over the last year, offering a better overall shopping experience with more value, convenience, and selection, and so far we’ve seen positive results, with higher customer shopping satisfaction scores and increased purchasing,” Jessica Martin, Amazon spokesperson, said in a statement.

Jessica Martin addressed customers’ desires for additional features beyond simply skipping the checkout line with the Just Walk Out technology. She stated that customers expressed interest in easily locating nearby products and deals, viewing their receipts in real-time as they shop, and tracking their savings throughout the store. These insights contributed to Amazon’s decision to shift its strategy and prioritize delivering a more comprehensive and customer-centric shopping experience.

In A Nutshell

Amazon’s decision to fully replace “Just Walk Out” technology with “Dash Cart” in large grocery stores marks another milestone in its commitment to enhancing the retail experience. As the company continues to evolve its offerings, it remains dedicated to meeting the ever-changing needs and preferences of its customers. The transition to Dash Cart not only streamlines the checkout process but also introduces new features that empower shoppers with real-time insights and convenience. As we look ahead, it’s evident that Amazon will continue to lead the charge in revolutionizing the way we shop, setting new standards for retail excellence in the digital age.

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Facebook’s Secret Data Sharing Deal with Netflix Exposed: How It Fueled Targeted Ads and Billions in Revenue

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Facebook Netflix data sharing

Facebook‘s history of sharing user data with external entities is no secret. In 2012, the social media giant faced scrutiny for sharing data with Cambridge Analytica, resulting in a hefty $5 billion fine. Now, a new court document filed in an antitrust lawsuit against Meta reveals another surprising partnership formed between Facebook and Netflix spanning from 2011 to 2019.

The lawsuit alleges that over nearly a decade, Facebook and Netflix maintained a close and mutually beneficial partnership. During this period, Netflix invested heavily in Facebook ads, engaged in data-sharing agreements, gained access to exclusive Facebook APIs, and participated in custom partnerships and integrations. These collaborations notably enhanced Facebook’s ad targeting and ranking models.

The document asserts that this close partnership was cultivated under the guidance of Netflix’s then-CEO Hastings, who served on Facebook’s board from 2011 to 2019. Hastings played a pivotal role in overseeing various aspects of the relationship, including advertising expenditure, data-sharing agreements, and discussions aimed at addressing competition in the streaming video market. His direct communication with Facebook executives, particularly Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, facilitated the management and evolution of this strategic alliance.

Facebook Netflix Data Sharing Partnership: A Decade-Long Affair

  • The partnership between Netflix and Meta traces back to June 2011 when Reed Hastings, Netflix’s CEO, joined Meta’s board. Shortly after Hastings’ appointment, Netflix announced a Facebook integration aimed at sharing user data internationally. Concurrently, Netflix initiated lobbying efforts in Congress to enable similar data-sharing practices in the United States.
  • By 2013, Netflix had entered into a series of “Facebook Extended API” agreements, granting it access to Facebook’s private message inboxes and other user data through the “Inbox API” and “Titan API.” These agreements required Netflix to provide regular reports to Facebook on recommendation sends and recipient clicks, ensuring reciprocity in data exchange. Throughout this period, Hastings maintained direct communication with Zuckerberg, advocating for transparency and oversight regarding data-sharing practices.
  • Despite Netflix’s substantial investment in Facebook advertising, reaching $40 million per year by February 2015, Hastings sought a custom deal to restrict Facebook’s use of its data for targeting.
  • In March 2018, Zuckerberg surprised Meta’s content executives with a drastic budget cut for Watch’s original programming and sports content. This decision signalled Meta’s abrupt withdrawal from direct competition with Netflix in the streaming sector.
  • Between August 2017 and April 2018, Netflix and Facebook entered into new data-sharing agreements. These agreements enriched Facebook’s ad targeting systems with valuable insights from Netflix, while deliberately excluding Watch from these benefits. Additionally, Netflix further increased its ad spending on Facebook, committing to a guaranteed ad spend of $150 million in 2017. Hastings played a pivotal role in facilitating these agreements, signalling his continued involvement in steering the partnership.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has responded to the allegations raised in the lawsuit by asserting that its agreements and relationships with Netflix adhere to common industry practices. However, Meta did not directly address whether competition with Netflix influenced the decision to shut down Facebook Watch.

Financial Growth

By the end of 2019, Facebook had over 2.3 billion monthly users, and Netflix had more than 167 million streaming paid memberships worldwide. Both platforms had amassed a vast wealth of user data, which serves as a valuable resource, enabling them to refine their advertising strategies and generate billions in revenue from targeted ads.

As a result, Facebook’s advertising revenue surged dramatically from $4.28 billion in 2012 to an astounding $69.66 billion in 2019. Similarly, Netflix experienced significant streaming revenue growth, increasing from $2.47 billion to $19.86 billion during the same period. The strong growth in revenues indicates the pivotal role of user data in driving the financial success of these tech giants.

This isn’t the first instance of Facebook being implicated in such data-sharing practices. In 2018, The New York Times reported that Facebook permitted Microsoft’s Bing search engine to access the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without their consent, as evidenced by records. Moreover, Facebook granted Netflix and Spotify the capability to read the private messages of Facebook users. The social media giant, however, has denied all allegations.

The revelation of the Facebook-Netflix partnership and the subsequent sharing of user data without explicit consent signifies a significant breach of trust. Users entrust these platforms with their most intimate information and expect nothing less than the utmost confidentiality and respect for their privacy. However, the exploitation of this trust for the sake of generating billions in revenue not only showcases a flagrant disregard for ethical principles but also undermines the very foundation of trust upon which these platforms are built.

To address these concerns and rebuild trust, stringent regulatory measures must be implemented to govern data practices and hold companies accountable for their actions. Additionally, tech companies must prioritize transparency, accountability, and ethical stewardship in their operations, empowering users with greater control over their data.

Do you still perceive Facebook as a trusted social media platform, given the emergence of multiple cases related to its data-sharing practices with Netflix, Spotify and Cambridge Analytics, in recent years?

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Unicorn to $3 Billion in Less Than A Year: Zepto Aims for Top Spot with Bold Expansion Strategy

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Zepto Fundraising

Quick commerce startups in India are currently engaged in a fierce battle for dominance as they expand their foothold into the ever-competitive e-commerce landscape. Interestingly, foreign investments in these startups are significantly contributing to their growth. Among these contenders, Zepto, one of the fastest-growing players, is reportedly in talks to raise a minimum of $300 million from global investors. But what’s particularly noteworthy is the valuation of Zepto in this fundraising round.

In less than 10 months, Zepto, a three-year-old Mumbai-based startup, aims to seek funds at a valuation ranging between $2.5 to $3 billion. This marks a whopping 78.6% increase from its previous valuation of just $1.4 billion in August 2023, when it achieved unicorn status. This development is nothing but a testament to the pivotal role of foreign investment in propelling the expansion and success of promising startups, solidifying Zepto’s position as a formidable contender in the fast-evolving commerce market.

Now let’s understand how Zepto and other quick commerce companies are winning the trust of investors!

Zepto’s Ambitious Expansion Strategy

Strategic Financial Goals: Zepto is reportedly aiming to achieve positive EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) by September this year, showcasing its commitment to robust financial planning and operational efficiency. This goal is underpinned by its impressive annualized gross sales run-rate of $1.2 billion. It is important to note that Zepto’s revenue from operations skyrocketed 1335.5% YoY from Rs 141 crore in FY22 to Rs 2,024 crore in FY23.

Operational Excellence: Zepto demonstrates operational excellence through its extensive network of around 340 dark stores, with over 200 already achieving EBITDA positivity. Aadit Palicha, CEO of Zepto, highlights that mature stores currently contribute 6-7% of EBITDA, with the potential to increase up to 13-14%. This will enable these dark stores to generate their own cash, illustrating Zepto’s efficiency and self-sustainability in its operations.

Bold Expansion: Swiggy’s Instamart and Zomato’s Blinkit currently dominate India’s quick commerce market. With the forthcoming entry of Walmart-owned Flipkart into the quick commerce sector, Zepto acknowledges the criticality of maintaining a competitive edge. The company has pursued aggressive expansion strategies, notably increasing investments in employee growth, marketing, advertising, and other key activities. Zepto’s total expenses increased a whopping 528.5% YoY from Rs 533 crore in FY22 to Rs 3,350 crore in FY23, and it is expected to grow more this year. This proactive approach underscores Zepto’s commitment to solidifying its position amidst intensifying market competition and seizing emerging opportunities for growth and market dominance.

“We closed a large round just a few months ago and we are on the verge of hitting Ebitda positive, so strong execution is the priority right now, not raising capital,” Aadit Palicha, cofounder and CEO of Zepto said.

A Battle for Market Dominance

Zepto’s biggest rival, Zomato’s Blinkit, has also been expanding by multiple folds. CEO Deepinder Goyal even believes that Blinkit has the potential to surpass Zomato’s food delivery business. As a dominant player in major cities, Blinkit is diversifying its stock-keeping units (SKUs) into fashion, jewellery, toys, beauty, and electronics.

Zomato’s substantial investment of approximately $240 million in Blinkit last year has propelled its Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) to surpass $1 billion in the first nine months of FY24. With a vast network of over 450 dark stores spread across 25 cities, Blinkit solidifies its position as a market leader.

In contrast, Swiggy Instamart has earmarked a $700 million investment and operates over 500 dark stores, showcasing its own aggressive expansion strategy.

Meesho, another e-commerce player, is also on the brink of securing a substantial $300 million investment from a group of investors. Notably, this group includes Tiger Global and SoftBank, two well-known technology investment firms with global influence. Their decision to invest in Meesho is significant because it marks their return to the Indian market after an absence of approximately 18 months.

As Indian startups in India’s quick commerce sector gear up for expansion, the significance of foreign investments shaping the sector’s trajectory cannot be overstated. With rapid advancements and strategic initiatives, the battle for dominance in India’s e-commerce arena is only set to intensify in the coming months.

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Rise of Online Scams Targeting Indians: Over 5,000 Are Trapped in Foreign Job Scam

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Online Scams by Indians

As technology adoption continues to surge, so does the prevalence of cyber scams. In a disturbing trend, cybercriminals are increasingly targeting unsuspecting Indians under the guise of lucrative job offers. More than 5,000 Indian citizens in Cambodia, a South Asian country, are allegedly being forced to engage in online scams targeting their fellow countrymen. The fraudsters behind these schemes have managed to swindle victims out of a significant amount, estimated to be at least Rs 500 crore, in the last six months alone.

What adds another layer of complexity to this deceitful scenario is the revelation that Indians held captive in Cambodia are forced to impersonate law enforcement officials to entrap more Indians. By falsely claiming to have discovered suspicious items in the packages sent by these people, they exploit the trust and fear of the victims to extort money.

Collaborative Rescue Efforts

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the Government of India, has taken swift action, working closely with Cambodian authorities to rescue and repatriate victims. To date, approximately 250 Indians have been rescued and returned home, shedding light on the scale of this cyber slavery epidemic.

The cyber fraud case was brought to public attention after the Rourkela Police in Odisha uncovered a syndicate on December 30, 2023. This operation led to the arrest of eight people from various parts of India, suspected of facilitating trips to Cambodia for illicit purposes.

The Rourkela Police have gathered prima facie evidence against multiple individuals involved in the scam, leading them to issue Look Out Circulars against 16 people. Shedding light on the operation, an officer disclosed that it began with a complaint filed by a senior Central government official who was defrauded of approximately Rs 70 lakh.

Online Scams Targeting Indians: Victim Testimony

Stephen, one of the rescued men, recounted his experience to The Indian Express. He explained he and another guy named Babu Rao from Andhra were offered jobs in Cambodia by an agent in Mangaluru. When at the immigration, the agent mentioned they would be travelling on tourist visas, Stephen became suspicious. Upon arriving in Cambodia, they were taken to an office where they underwent interviews and skills tests, such as typing speed assessments.

After passing all the tests, Stephen realised that the job involved searching for Facebook profiles to identify potential targets for scams. He noted that the team consisted of Chinese people, with a Malaysian translator facilitating communication in English.

Regarding their daily routine, Stephen revealed that they were mandated to create fake social media accounts using photos of women sourced from different platforms. They were specifically instructed to be cautious in selecting these photos, ensuring they did not raise suspicion. Surprisingly, failure to meet their targets resulted in punishments such as withholding food or denying access to their rooms. Eventually, after enduring these circumstances for a month and a half, Stephen contacted his family for help, and they reached out to local politicians to facilitate communication with the embassy for their rescue.

Addressing Root Causes

The alarming rise of cybercrimes targeting young Indians is largely attributed to the high youth unemployment rate in India compared to other developed nations. This disparity is particularly pronounced among educated individuals, with the highest rates observed among those holding graduate degrees or higher, according to the latest “India Employment Report 2024” report.

In 2022, the unemployment rate among Indian youth with secondary education or higher stood at 18.4%, which was six times higher than the rate for individuals lacking basic literacy skills, recorded at 3.4%. What’s more surprising is that the unemployment rate among graduates soared to 29.1%, making it nine times greater than the rate among those lacking basic literacy skills.

Avaran Abraham, Second Secretary (Consular and Diaspora), revelaed that they receive an average of four to five complaints regularly from various parts of Cambodia. Upon receiving these complaints, they quickly notify the local police and provide assistance to affected Indians on how to reach the embassy.

However, upon returning to India, many of these rescued Indian victims do not file FIRs (First Information Reports) with the police. This poses a challenge, as without FIRs, Indian authorities cannot pursue legal action against the agents or companies involved in fraudulent activities.

To address this concerning trend, the government must raise awareness among jobseekers and educate them about the dangers of falling into such traps. It is crucial to provide guidance on how to identify and avoid fraudulent job schemes and empower individuals with knowledge on how to take legal action against deceptive agencies and companies.

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OpenAI Voice Engine: AI Makes Scammers Sound Too Good to Be True

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OpenAI Voice Engine

In the last 18 months, OpenAI has been at the forefront of innovation by introducing three of the most advanced AI technology tools to the world. These tools are not only the first of their kind in history but also hold tremendous potential for people across diverse industries and fields – HOWEVER, only when they’re in the hands of the right people.

In a recent development, OpenAI unveiled a Voice Engine, a cutting-edge technology capable of generating natural-sounding speech closely resembling the original speaker using just text input and a brief 15-second audio sample.

In a recent press release, OpenAI revealed that they initially developed Voice Engine technology in late 2022, utilizing it to power the preset voices featured in their text-to-speech API, as well as in products like ChatGPT Voice and Read Aloud.

However, despite its capabilities, OpenAI is proceeding cautiously with a broader release of this new technology due to concerns regarding the potential misuse of synthetic voices.

“We hope to start a dialogue on the responsible deployment of synthetic voices, and how society can adapt to these new capabilities. Based on these conversations and the results of these small scale tests, we will make a more informed decision about whether and how to deploy this technology at scale,” says OpenAI in a press release.

Applications of Voice Engine Across Industries

In 2023, OpenAI initiated private tests with a select group of trusted partners to explore the capabilities of Voice Engine. The results have been highly promising, revealing a range of potential applications for this advanced technology.

Reading Assistance: One notable application is in education, where Age of Learning, an edtech company, has employed Voice Engine to generate pre-scripted voice-over content and to develop personalized responses in real time. By providing customized interactions specifically designed for non-readers and children through natural-sounding voices, Voice Engine has the potential to revolutionize educational content delivery.

Content Translation: Similarly, HeyGen, an AI visual storytelling platform, is leveraging the new Voice Engine AI tool for content translation purposes. By translating videos and podcasts into multiple languages while preserving the original accents of speakers, HeyGen can connect with a global audience. For instance, generating English with an audio sample from a French speaker would result in speech with a French accent, thereby preserving authenticity and enriching audience engagement.

Community Health Services: In the healthcare sector, Dimagi, a provider of crucial healthcare services like counselling for breastfeeding mothers, has integrated OpenAI’s Voice Engine to assist community health workers in remote regions. By providing interactive feedback in each worker’s primary language, including Swahili or more informal languages like Sheng, Voice Engine improves skill development and service delivery, especially in underserved communities.

Support for Non-Verbal Individuals: For individuals with communication challenges, Livox, an AI app designed to assist people with disabilities in communicating, has also integrated the Voice Engine model by OpenAI. The app users now have the flexibility to select speech that accurately reflects their identity. For those who speak multiple languages, the app ensures consistency in voice across each language.

What’s particularly intriguing is that the integration of OpenAI’s Voice Engine is not only helping in language transition but also facilitating voice restoration for patients dealing with sudden or degenerative speech conditions.

The Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute at Lifespan is exploring the uses of AI in clinical contexts. They’ve initiated a program offering Voice Engine to individuals with speech impairment caused by oncologic or neurologic factors.

Doctors Fatima Mirza, Rohaid Ali, and Konstantina Svokos successfully restored the voice of a young patient who lost her fluent speech due to a vascular brain tumor. This remarkable achievement was made possible with the use of a short audio sample from a video recorded for a school project.

In a Nutshell

The advancement of OpenAI’s Voice Engine represents a significant leap forward in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, offering diverse applications across various sectors. Even though the potential benefits are vast, it’s important to navigate its deployment responsibly, considering ethical implications and potential misuse by scammers and fraudsters.

Imagine receiving a phone call purportedly from your boss or family member, urgently demanding a wire transfer of funds. The voice on the other end sounds identical, conveying a sense of urgency and authenticity that leaves little or no room for doubt. In such scenarios, victims could easily fall prey to fraudulent schemes, resulting in significant financial loss and emotional distress.

Regulatory bodies must play a crucial role in establishing guidelines and safeguards to prevent misuse and protect the privacy and security of individuals. It would be interesting to see how OpenAI’s rivals, such as Google, xAI (owned by Elon Musk), and other companies, continue to innovate in this space. As competition drives further development, we can anticipate even more sophisticated AI solutions emerging in the future.

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Guide on How to Write a Winning Coursework for College?

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write coursework in college

The dream of all students is to be champions in every field of their life. College students want to be popular among peers, have many friends, and have high grades at the same time. While we cannot help you with the first, the second one can be easily controlled thanks to our advice and the help of professional writers. 

When learning at college, you can receive help not only with the homework but also with the coursework writing & editing you receive during the course. However, today we will focus on coursework and will tell you where you can get help with it. Additionally, we will give you some tips which may be valuable to prepare to write the coursework.

What is a College Coursework

College coursework is the final paper students write at the end of the year. Coursework can be of different types depending on the field you study for instance economics, nursing, finances, or businesses. Therefore, your professors may be creative regarding the type of assignment they may give you at the end of the course. Anyway, no matter when and what you study, coursework has one goal — to summarize all you have been learning during the course and how you can apply your knowledge in practice, namely when solving some problems. Your coursework can be of different types:

  • Research paper
  • Essay
  • Problem-solving
  • Case study
  • Lab report
  • PowerPoint presentation
  • Pamphlet or brochure

However, all the types of coursework have something in common — you need to spend a lot of time and energy to do them.

College coursework should be perfect because it will bring you the most points, which are gathered at the end of the course. It means that the paper should be perfectly structured, and formatted and should not contain any mistakes. That is why you should use all your writing skills to polish the coursework assignment and submit it in its perfect form.

Tips for Coursework Writing

We are sure that your main goal when you read this article is to find out how to make your coursework perfect. Hence, we will share some old but gold tricks, which would be your true friend during writing:

  • Understand the purpose: this advice may seem evident, however, students often fail because they have not understood the assignment correctly. Above all, you should understand what the objective of the coursework assignment is and why your professor assigned it. By clearly embracing the meaning, you will be able to write what is expected of you.
  • Be organized: organization is needed in all aspects of life, not only for learning but also for writing specific assignments. When you work on your coursework you definitely need to stick to the structure, which should probably compromise the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. However, the main trick is to look at your rubric and follow it.
  • Be creative: originality is the main thing that is required by professors when you write such important tasks as coursework. You can simply be original if you apply your creative skills and use your brains to stand out. Additionally, it serves two purposes: it will make you sound unique and will prevent you from being punished for plagiarism because your paper will not likely be plagiarized if you write on your own.
  • Be careful: you need to be careful when you work barefoot because you risk hurting your feet. It is evident and can’t be disputed. In the academic world, this truth applies to editing and proofreading, you simply can not avoid them. When completing three steps: recognizing objectives, following the structure, and providing unique ideas, it is time to look it over a few times again. You will be surprised how many mistakes could have spoiled your paper and result in bad mistakes.

You can stick to all these tips and be sure that no mistake will sneak out of your sight. Additionally, your paper will not be plagiarized and will contain unique ideas. Sounds perfect, right? 

Yet, if you are not sure you can handle it on your own, we have a final tip for you — use online coursework help services. If you know little facts about such kind of help, we will assist you.

Online Help with College Coursework

If you are tired of the tons of homework you should do and you don’t feel like writing your dissertation, it is time to use online coursework help. We will provide you with quick facts to help you understand why this is a good choice for you:

  1. The coursework helpers are highly-qualified professionals who are well-versed in writing coursework.
  2. They have advanced degrees and qualifications in addition to perfect writing skills
  3. They stick to the structure, formatting guidelines, and instructions, which ensures that students receive perfect coursework
  4. The writers write with their own skills, never copy and paste; never use AI or recycle works written for other students
  5. They allow students to ask for free revision and correct the paper for free when needed

Based on these facts, you can superficially understand what awaits you if you use the specialized coursework writing services. Most importantly, your professor will be highly satisfied with your work and you will receive the highest grade.

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Amazon Makes Historic Bet on AI: $4 Billion Fuels Anthropic’s Generative Engine

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Amazon investment in Anthropic

AI investments have skyrocketed in the last three years, with tech giants placing their bets on the transformative power of generative artificial intelligence (AI). The most recent milestone in this trend is Amazon‘s $4 billion investment in Anthropic.

With an initial investment of $1.25 billion in September 2023, Amazon has now doubled down on its commitment to Anthropic by injecting an additional $2.75 billion, resulting in a total investment of $4 billion. This substantial financial backing has captured widespread attention, directing all eyes towards the future of AI and the potential benefits it holds for developers and, ultimately, customers worldwide.

Amazon Investment in Anthropic: A Win-Win Alliance

Founded in 2021 by former members of OpenAI, Anthropic is a promising US-based AI startup. Since its inception, the company has raised significant funds from biggies like Google, Spark Capital and Alameda Research. With a $4 billion investment in Anthropic, Amazon has acquired a minority stake in the company.

As a part of the deal, Anthropic has chosen AWS (Amazon Web Services) as its primary cloud provider, leveraging AWS Trainium and Inferentia chips for training and deploying its future foundation models. This strategic decision ensures optimized performance and efficiency in handling AI workloads.

Anthropic’s commitment extends beyond its own operations, aiming to democratize access to its AI technology. By making its models available to millions of developers worldwide, Anthropic opens doors for widespread innovation and collaboration in AI development.

Furthermore, Anthropic is enhancing the value proposition for AWS customers by offering early access to exclusive features through Amazon Bedrock. This includes the ability to customize models using proprietary data and fine-tuning capabilities, empowering AWS users to tailor AI solutions to their specific needs and gain a competitive edge in their respective industries.

The collaboration between Amazon and Anthropic marks just the beginning of their efforts to deliver cutting-edge generative artificial intelligence (generative AI) technologies to customers worldwide.

“We have a notable history with Anthropic, together helping organizations of all sizes around the world to deploy advanced generative artificial intelligence applications across their organizations,” said Dr. Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Data and AI at AWS.

Organizations of all sizes, spanning various industries worldwide, have already embraced Amazon Bedrock as their platform of choice for developing generative AI applications powered by Anthropic’s Claude AI. Among these adopters are leading names such as ADP, Amdocs, Bridgewater Associates, Broadridge, CelcomDigi, Cloudera, Delta Air Lines, Genesys, GoDaddy, Intuit, KT, LivTech, Lonely Planet, Parsyl, Perplexity AI, Pfizer, Ricoh USA, Rocket Companies, Siemens, and more.

In an effort to expedite the adoption of advanced generative AI technologies, AWS, Anthropic, and Accenture have recently teamed up to assist organizations, particularly those operating in highly regulated sectors such as healthcare, public sector, banking, and insurance. The collaboration focuses on responsibly adopting and scaling generative AI solutions. Through this joint initiative, participating organizations will benefit from Anthropic’s best-in-class models and gain access to a comprehensive suite of capabilities exclusively offered through Amazon Bedrock.

Competition in AI Heating Up

In November 2023, news surfaced that Google is in discussions to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Character.AI, a rapidly growing startup specializing in artificial intelligence chatbots. The search engine giant is also in negotiations to pour about $4 million into Corover.ai, an Indian startup specializing in conversational artificial intelligence.

Another tech giant, Microsoft, has recently unveiled a multi-year partnership with Mistral, a Paris-based AI startup. This collaboration involves integrating Mistral’s latest flagship large language model, Mistral Large, into Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing and application development platform. This strategic move reflects Microsoft’s endeavour to diversify its partnerships with AI companies beyond its substantial investments in OpenAI, which have exceeded $13 billion.

As the competition in the generative AI landscape intensifies, major players like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants are leaving no stone unturned to pour their billions into promising startups ps that have the potential to redefine the future of AI. It is important to note that Amazon’s historic $4 billion investment in Anthropic stands out as the largest external investment in its three-decade history, reflecting its ambition to spearhead the AI competition.

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From Gujia to Pichkaris: Indian Festivals are Shaping the Future of Quick Commerce

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Food and grocery orders during Holi

India is a land of festivals, and these festivals typically drive huge demand for food, groceries and various other products ordered through e-commerce platforms. Interestingly, Holi, this year’s first biggest festival celebrated on Monday, 25 March 2024, triggered a record surge in orders across prominent quick-commerce platforms like Zomato‘s Blinkit, Zepto, and Swiggy Instamart. The spike in orders was particularly notable for Holi essentials such as colours (Gulaal), sweets, playful Pichkaris, flowers and food items.

Moreover, there was significant demand for white T-shirts, a staple for playing Holi, and coconut oil among consumers.

Zomato’s Blinkit typically processes approximately 600,000 orders on a standard business day. On the other hand, Swiggy Instamart and Zepto handle around 550,000 and 500,000 orders daily, respectively.

However, on the day of Holi, Swiggy Instamart was anticipated to exceed 700,000 orders in a single day, marking a record high, as reported by insiders. Similarly, Zepto was expected to surpass 600,000 orders on this significant occasion, representing a noteworthy milestone, according to information provided by a spokesperson.

Order Suge During Holi: Insights from Industry Leaders

Albinder Dhindsa, the co-founder and CEO of Blinkit, disclosed that the platform achieved its highest Order Volume per Minute (OPM) on the day before Holi. On the X platform, he mentioned that they are on course to surpass their all-time high order record from Valentine’s Day this year, although specifics were not provided.

Phani Kishan Addepalli, the cofounder of Swiggy and head of Instamart, revealed that the sales of flowers on Instamart had quintupled compared to Holi last year, without divulging exact figures.

On the X platform, Kishan Addepalli revealed that a customer from Gurugram ordered Holi essentials worth ₹5,202, which included water guns, Pichkaris, and Gulaal.

Kishan Addepalli also mentioned that nearly every Swiggy Instamart order placed on Holi day included a packet of Gulaal. He further added that in Bangalore, one in every seven orders and in Mumbai, one in every five orders included a Pichkaris. What’s more interesting is that Gulaal orders began streaming in as early as 6 am, reaching a peak of 444 Gulals per minute observed on the platform until 10 am.

Aadit Palicha, Zepto’s co-founder and CEO, highlighted on the X platform that the platform witnessed purchases of items such as white T-shirts during Holi, showcasing the growing recognition of Zepto’s versatility beyond daily grocery needs. Palicha also shared a screenshot demonstrating a surge in sales of juices and mixers on March 25 as customers engaged in house parties, expressing surprise at these ongoing sales trends.

Indian festival days are increasingly becoming lucrative opportunities for quick commerce firms, as they continually set new order records. For instance, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, Zepto, Swiggy Instamart, and Zomato-owned Blinkit each achieved their highest-ever single-day sales, surpassing the peaks reached on New Year’s Eve. This trend is prompting quick commerce firms to expand their product offerings to rival those of e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon. From fashion and beauty to electronics, toys, and home and kitchen essentials, these companies are catering to a broader spectrum of consumer demands.

Surge In Food Orders on Holi

In addition to Holi-related items, Indians also turn to online food delivery platforms like Swiggy and Zomato for their culinary delights.

Rohit Kapoor, the CEO of Swiggy’s food marketplace, shared on X platform the surge in orders for traditional treats like Gujia and Thandai. Kapoor further highlighted a notable instance where a user from Lucknow spent a whopping Rs 28,830 on Gujiyas ordered from Swiggy for their Holi celebrations, expressing his envy for such an epic Holi party.

India is the fastest-growing market for e-commerce, and there is a big window of opportunity for established and emerging players to capture the attention of customers in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The demand for food, groceries, and assorted items remains consistently high across the country. Due to increased purchasing power, people are not hesitant to spend thousands or lakhs, especially during festive seasons.

With the continued growth and dominance of key players like Swiggy, Zomato and Zepto, the future of online food and grocery delivery in India appears highly promising, offering even greater convenience and choice to consumers nationwide. What did you order from these online food and grocery delivery platforms during Holi? Share your festive shopping experience with us!

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WhatsApp’s Upcoming AI Features are Game Changers: Redefining User Experience

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WhatsApp Meta AI

In the competitive landscape of technological advancement, integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into existing offerings has become a top priority for companies. Meta, under the leadership of Mark Zuckerberg, is no exception to this trend. WhatsApp, in particular, is on the verge of a significant transformation in user interaction with the seamless integration of Meta AI directly into its search bar.

The forthcoming feature in WhatsApp, unveiled in the latest Android WhatsApp beta update (version 2.23.25.15) by WABetaInfo, represents a pragmatic approach to optimizing user experience.

WhatsApp AI Features: Enhancing User Experience

With Meta AI integrated into the WhatsApp search bar, users will be able to effortlessly ask queries through prompts within the search interface, easing them into interactions with Meta AI. This integration not only saves time but also enhances convenience by facilitating swift access to AI-powered assistance.

Moreover, WhatsApp’s decision to provide users with greater control over the visibility of the Meta AI shortcut within the top app bar reflects a commitment to user-centric design and customization. This feature empowers users to tailor their app interface according to their preferences, further enhancing the overall user experience.

Another significant AI feature on the horizon for WhatsApp is image editing, a much needed for teens and young adults who love capturing and sharing pictures.

The recent WhatsApp beta update for Android, version 2.24.7.13, has unveiled code indicative of an upcoming AI-powered image editor. This suggests that WhatsApp is actively developing an innovative tool to empower users with advanced image editing capabilities. With this feature, users may soon have the ability to swiftly modify various aspects of their images, including background adjustments, restyling, and ‘expansion’, all facilitated by AI technology.

It’s important to note that both these AI features on WhatsApp are still in the developmental phase, meaning they are not yet available for testing by users, even after updating to the latest version of the app. However, it’s anticipated that these features will undergo further refinement and improvement before being rolled out to testers on the beta channel. Eventually, they are expected to be made available to all users, including those on iOS, ensuring feature parity across both mobile platforms.

Competitive Landscape: Meta vs. X

In September 2023, Meta unveiled Meta AI, a cutting-edge assistant designed for human-like interaction. Initially launched in select countries, Meta AI is accessible on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram and will soon expand to Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses and Quest 3. This AI assistant is driven by a proprietary model incorporating advancements from Llama 2 and Meta’s latest large language model (LLM) research.

Just like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Meta AI provides users with real-time information, leveraging Meta’s search partnership with Microsoft’s Bing. Additionally, it provides a feature for generating images, further enriching its functionality and user experience.

In November 2023, Elon Musk also revealed that xAI‘s LLM model, named Grok, will soon be integrated into the X platform. Musk emphasized Grok’s significant advantage of having real-time access to information via the X platform, which sets it apart from other AI models.

It will be interesting to see how Meta’s Family of Apps – Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram – with a combined user base of around 3.98 billion, will compete with X’s platform, boasting 550 million users, following the integration of AI capabilities into their respective social media platforms.

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India’s Unicorn Startups on a Hiring Spree: 25,000 New Faces Join the Workforce Despite Challenges

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Hiring in startups

The Indian startup ecosystem continues to exhibit a robust appetite for skilled talent, particularly evident in unicorn startups valued at over $1 billion. In the past year alone, India’s top 15 unicorns have let go of their 33,000 underperforming employees while welcoming an impressive 58,000 new hires, resulting in a remarkable net headcount growth of 25,000.

Among these top 15 unicorns are BigBasket, Delhivery, Flipkart, IndiaMART, Meesho, Ola, PhonePe, Swiggy, Udaan, Zoho, and Zomato. Their collective headcount currently stands at 255,000, underlining the substantial workforce employed within the ecosystem.

The surge in new employees in India’s startup unicorns is particularly noteworthy given the backdrop of a prolonged funding winter and other operational challenges. However, despite these obstacles, unicorn startups remain steadfast in their aggressive hiring strategies to drive their growth trajectories forward. Some of these startups have already made their public debut in 2022 and 2023, while others are currently planning to launch their initial public offerings (IPOs) this year.

Talent Movement Within the Startup Ecosystem

The data, curated for The Economic Times by specialist staffing firm Xpheno, sheds light on a noteworthy trend in talent retention in the Indian startup ecosystem over the past 12 months. Interestingly, the analysis identified 27 companies as the top employers of talent who had left their previous jobs within the same industry or sector.

What’s particularly striking is that among these 27 top employers, 18 were startups, accounting for a substantial 75% of the talent absorptions. Even more intriguing is the fact that 8 out of these 18 startups belonged to the esteemed group of top 15 unicorns. This indicates that there was a substantial lateral exchange of talent within this elite group of unicorns.

In other words, employees leaving one startup or unicorn often found employment opportunities within another startup or unicorn, showcasing a dynamic movement of talent within the top echelons of the Indian startup ecosystem.

On the other hand, the remaining nine companies that absorbed talent in the last 12 months were classified as large and established enterprises, representing 25% of the attrited talent.

“Within the 100 plus unicorns in India, broadly 50% are doing really well and these top ones still remain attractive talent destinations,” said Amit Nawka, partner, deals and startups at PwC.

Opportunities for CXO Recruitment

Amit Nawka further emphasizes that many top-level professionals working in startups often find it challenging to adapt to the cultural norms of traditional sector companies. As a result, a significant number of senior startup executives prefer to remain within the startup ecosystem.

One notable example is Abhishek Arun, who previously served as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Paytm Payments Bank. Arun has now transitioned to M2P Fintech, where he is the President of platform Strategy & Commercialization.

Similarly, Cherian Thomas, formerly the Senior Vice President for international business at Byju’s, has ascended to the position of CEO at Impending Inc., providing another compelling illustration of this trend.

Therefore, there is a great opportunity for all startups and unicorns to attract top-level CXO candidates within their own sectors and ranks. The movement of talent within the ecosystem provides fertile ground for startups to recruit experienced executives. However, despite this trend, some senior executives from unicorns and soonicorns are considering opportunities with traditional businesses. This shift in interest may be influenced by factors such as the current funding climate and market projections.

In conclusion, the Indian startup ecosystem, particularly unicorn startups, is actively hiring talent, showcasing their resilience and continued growth trajectory amidst challenges. However, the question arises: Is this aggressive hiring a testament to long-term growth confidence, or is it merely talent poaching within a closed loop of unicorns? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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