🐛 Bankrupt homeware giant
PLUS: Employee benefits for gig workers?
Good morning. It’s Earlybird here, your morning dose of business and tech news that comes with a free wake up call (if your email tone is loud enough). Happy Monday.
In this edition:
🏍️ Social security for Ola, Swiggy gig workers
🔋 Log9 calls dibs on EV battery space
🛀 Bed Bath & Beyond throws in the towel
*Stock data as of market close. Source.
Markets: Eight of India's top 10 companies, including Infosys and TCS, have collectively lost over Rs 1.17 lakh crore in market valuation amid a broader market sell-off. The IT sector has been hit particularly hard, with Infosys being the biggest laggard. However, experts remain optimistic about the long-term prospects of the Indian market, citing the country's strong economic fundamentals and potential for growth.
Ola, Uber, Zomato get told to treat gig workers right
🏍️ The Indian Ministry of Labor and Employment has been in chats with consumer ‘app-bitrage’ companies like Ola, Uber, Zomato, and Swiggy, proposing they treat their gig workers to some social security benefits. Here’s what went down:
The pitch included the extension of benefits such as life insurance and work-hazard and health coverage.
Coincidentally, these talks came after driver partners of platforms like Blinkit went on strike to protest their sub-par working conditions.
At this point, the ministry is of the opinion that for such enterprises, the cost element won't be too harsh given the advantages of group covers, which are less expensive.
🕛️ Current status. Talks are still reportedly underway and have yet to reach an actionable conclusion.
Volkswagen shifts focus to premium cars in India
🚗 German automaker Volkswagen is moving toward premium products in India after only dealing in midrange models for the past 3-4 years. Here’s what changed:
🏢 India's auto landscape. Domestic passenger wholesales took a bit of a boost, to 10,18,355 units in Q1 2023 from 9,20,685 units in the same period last year. Naturally, VW wanted in on that.
✨ Going premium in India. In order to keep up with changing consumer needs, VW his looking to hop from a price range of Rs 6.5-7 lakh, to a new average of Rs 16 lakh for newer models with more feature-loaded goodies.
💵 And the budget market? Leaving the lower-end market to other manufacturers, VW stated that its focus on features is expected to reel in their new target buyers. Besides, VW’s got the chops for it being the quiet shadow master of luxury performance brands like Porsche and Audi.
🥞 Summing up. Overall, Volkswagen's decision to shift towards premium products in India is a strategic move aimed at improving the company's positioning in the country's competitive automotive market. With several new models set to be introduced over the next few years, the German automaker hopes to attract a more upscale customer base and improve its profitability in the long run.
Log9 calls dibs on EV battery space with new manufacturing unit
Breaking ground in a new market
🔋 Log9 Materials, a nanotech company HQ-ed in Bangalore, just launched a lithium-ion cell manufacturing unit as it looks to tap into the growing market for EV batteries. Here’s what they’re up to:
First in its class
Log9 presented the nation's first commercial Li-ion cell production line, with an initial capacity of 50 MWh (megawatt-hour).
The facility is geared to cook up LTO and LFP cells as well as large-form factor cylindrical cells in the 22 Series to 66 Series range.
The news comes Log9 received $40 M in Series B funding from the likes of Petronas Ventures and Amara Raja Batteries Ltd. Looks like they’re putting that dough to good use!
The business also provided details on its tech stack strategy, which enables faster public charging for LFP batteries.
It also provided a glimpse into its sophisticated cooling techniques, cell layout, and fancy cell control systems.
Overall, Log9's foray into the EV battery market is a promising development for the Indian startup ecosystem and the country's EV industry.
INDIA EDITION: WHAT ELSE IS ON THE BIRDWATCH
🦟 Pests are sucking the tea industry dry. India's tea industry is facing a major pest problem, with a reported annual crop loss of 147 million kilograms due to pest attacks. The outbreak, which is affecting tea plantations across the country, is being attributed to the spread of a notorious tea-munching bug called Helopeltis theivora, a.k.a the tea mosquito.
💵 Reliance scores highest-ever quarterly net. Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries has reported its highest-ever quarterly net profit of Rs 19,299 crore for Q1 of 2023. The record-breaking earnings were driven by strong performances across all of Reliance's high-achiever business segments.
🌏️ India up 6 places in world LPI. India now ranks 38th out of 139 nations on the World Bank's Logistic Performance Index (LPI) of 2023, up six places as a result of major spending in both technology and soft and physical infrastructure.
Catch up on the Indian funding flows from the past 24hrs:
Tricog, a healthtech startup aiming to make cardiac treatment more accessible, has secured $3M from Japan-based Omron Healthcare and other investors. The new funds will be lifeblood for the company to improve healthcare outcomes through technology-driven solutions.
Vidyapeeth School, one of the venture verticals of edtech unicorn Physicswallah, is set to receive a $10M investment from the parent firm toward its school integrated programme. The programme aims to further enhance the learning experience of students through digital education.
🛀 Bed Bath & Beyond is throwing in the towel. Bed Bath & Beyond, the popular 52-year old home goods retailer in the US, has filed for bankruptcy due to mounting debt and declining sales. The company has also struggled to keep up with the competing convenience of online shopping.
🚧 Google halts construction on Silicon Valley campus. to Google has hit pause on its plans to build a new Silicon Valley campus, citing a need to reassess its office space requirements in the post-pandemic era. The campus, set to be built in San Jose, was intended to accommodate up to 25,000 workers. However, the decision to delay construction may signal a shift in Google's long-term approach to remote work.
🚗 Lyft is dropping off thousands of staff. Ride-hailing service Lyft has announced ‘significant’ layoffs, as the company seeks to cut costs amid ongoing financial losses. The job cuts are expected to impact over 4,000 employees as Lyft continues to face stiff competition from its rival Uber.
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