🐛 BYJU's CEO probed for money laundering
PLUS: Post-layoff protests at Cogito
Good morning. It’s Earlybird at your door and slipping you a quick TLDR take on what’s going on in business, tech, and startups.
In this edition:
📖 BYJU's CEO probed for money laundering
✊ Post-layoff protests at Cogito
✂️ Clubhouse drops half of staff
*Stock data as of market close. Source.
Markets: April proved to be a strong month for small-cap stocks in India, with more than 400 companies seeing their share prices rise by at least 10%. The surge comes amid a broader rally in the Indian stock market, which has rebounded strongly from last year's pandemic-induced slump. While some experts warn that the market may be overheating, others remain optimistic about the outlook for small-cap companies.
Byju’s probed by money laundering watchdog
📖 On Saturday, the Enforcement Directorate announced an office and residential search of edtech unicorn BYJU's CEO, Raveendran Byju. Here’s what happened:
What they found. In a probe into foreign exchange violations, authorities claimed to have confiscated "incriminating" documents and digital data onsite. The specifics have yet to be interpreted publicly, so naturally, everyone is waiting.
What prompted the search. The probe was sparked by delayed financial filings, unaudited accounts, and also "various complaints” from private and (you guessed it) unnamed parties.
Missing in action. The ED said it summoned Raveendran “several” times as part of the continuing Byju's inquiry, but the founder "remained evasive and never appeared during the investigation."
Stepping in. During the probe, company members from legal dubbed the agency's searches as "a routine inquiry," adding that BJYU’s maintains totally transparent with the authorities and has supplied all information requested.
Jio Financial IPO, coming this October
🏢 According to an internal source, Reliance Industries Ltd. is planning to list its digital financial services unit as soon as October. Here’s what you need to know:
Current status. Super billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s conglomerate is reportedly in talks with Indian regulators to get the required approvals for the market debut of Jio Financial Services Ltd. in Mumbai.
Why it matters. The IPO would put Reliance in a good position to strengthen its burgeoning consumer businesses, which include India's largest wireless provider and largest retailer.
Long-term roadmap. As it continues to grow beyond its roots in oil refining, the group announced that it would work toward a listing for the retail and telecommunications arms within five years.
Data startup Cogito sparks post-layoff protests
👻 Employee data analytics firm Cogito has come under fire after it let go of 177 of its own staff as part of a its latest restructuring plan. Here’s what went down:
The move has sparked protests over the alleged failure to provide proper notice, couple with a rather out-of-the-blue closure of the impacted office.
After employees questioned the startup's decision to terminate them without notice, they claimed to have garnered no reaction from management.
Additionally, they claimed that the business failed to pay their salaries.
Damage control. According to a LinkedIn post, the Noida Police were called to the startup's headquarters on Friday to help contain the scene after the employees' protest.
INDIA EDITION: WHAT ELSE IS ON THE BIRDWATCH
🚨 SEBI cracks down on 15 groups for non-genuine trade. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has imposed a fine of RS 75 lakh on 15 entities for executing non-genuine trades. The entities were accused of using manipulative strategies to create artificial trading volumes and influence stock prices.
🏚️ Housing loans build up15%. Despite high interest rates, housing loans have seen a 15% growth in the March quarter, marking a new record of Rs 19.36 lakh.
💳️ India and Russia talk cross-payments. India and Russia are exploring the possibility of accepting Rupay and Mir cards in each other's countries.
Catch up on the Indian funding flows from the past 24hrs:
PNB Housing Finance, a subsidiary of Punjab National Bank, has raised Rs 2,494 crore through a rights issue. The company plans to use the funds to support its growth plans, including expanding its lending portfolio and improving its technology capabilities.
Beyoung, a fashion ecommerce startup, has secured Rs 40 crore in a recent funding round, which it plans to use to expand its operations and dress up its technology to a snazzier state.
Louis Stitch, a Delhi-based premium menswear company, has secured an 5 crore in pre-Series A funding from the family office of Ajay Bijli, the founder of PVR Cinemas. The funds will be used to expand the company's product range and increase its presence across multiple channels.
💵 Big wallets open for OpenAI. OpenAI, the US-based AI research firm, has raised over $300M in a funding round led by Altimeter Capital and the Coatue Management hedge fund. This injection will prompt the firm to further develop the it cutting-edge (and conversational) AI model, ChatGPT.
✂️ Clubhouse drops over half of staff. The social audio app Clubhouse has laid off more than half of its staff as user numbers decline. The startup, which gained popularity during the pandemic, has struggled to maintain its momentum as lockdown restrictions ease and users shift their attention to other platforms.
🪙 Zimbabwe’s new digital currency, fully backed by gold. Zimbabwe is reportedly planning to launch a digital currency backed by gold, as the country looks to address its ongoing currency crisis. The new token is set to go into circulation on May 8th.
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