Category: Mergers & Acquisitions

Verified Accounts On Twitter Sees Major Change, Among Others, Following Elon Musk’s Takeover

After more than half a year of twists and turns, Elon Musk’s $44 billion high-profile buyout of the social media platform Twitter takeover has finally taken place, with many of the company’s previous top executives being axed by Elon which, includes former Twitter Chief Executive Parag Agrawal, Chief Financial Officer Ned Segal, and Legal Affairs and Policy Chief Vijaya Gadde. 

Now, another major change is coming to the platform, this time around with regards to how Twitter will be implementing verified accounts. 

Elon Musk said in a tweet that the “whole verification process is being revamped right now” without much explanation. 

The social media platform is considering charging for the blue check coveted mark verifying the identity of its account holder. According to reports, Twitter users would have to subscribe to Twitter Blue at US$4.99 a month or lose their “verified” badges if the project moves forward. 

Separately, information reported by The Verge has also indicated that Twitter will be looking to increase the subscription piece for Twitter, which also verifies users, from US$4.99 a month to US$19.99 a month, citing internal correspondence seen by them. 

Additionally, The Verge also reported that Musk has requested that logged-out users visiting Twitter’s site be redirected to Explore page, which shows trending tweets. 

In further changes that may be coming to the social media platform, Musk launched a Twitter pool in April, asking his millions of followers whether they wanted a feature to edit tweets. The pool received an overwhelming response, where over 70% said yes. 

Elon Musk has said that he intends to make drastic changes to Twitter, from relaxing moderation rules to eliminating spam bots. But at the same time, Musk has also said some pretty contradicting things, saying things like the acquisition being “not a way to make money” while telling advertisers that he wants to make Twitter the “most respected advertising platform in the world.” 

Twitter, in recent years, has lagged behind some of the other platforms, with 238 million daily active users on the platform. In comparison, platforms like Whatsapp, Facebook, and Messenger are bringing in numbers near three billion daily users. At the same time, platforms like Pinterest have 445 billion monthly users, and Snapchat, with 363 million daily users. 

Financially, Twitter has not been in the same league as its big rivals either, with the social media platform bringing in revenues of US$1.2 billion from April to June, down one percent year-over-year and nearly 25 times lower than Meta. 

While Musk’s actions may seem harsh to some, the question that we should be asking is whether the decisions taken by the now Twitter owner are a necessary step to prevent the company from continuing on this downward spiral. 

Singapore-Based Interior Design Unicorn Livspace Sets Aside $100m For Strategic Acquisition

Interior design unicorn Livspace has announced that it will set aside $100m for its expansion plans in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Middle East. 

According to the company’s announcement, the funds will go towards incubating and investing in brands and content destinations across markets in the home decor, interior, renovation, and ancillary segments. 

Anuj Srivatsava, CEO of the company said that the company will be looking to invest in businesses working across home improvement segments, such as partial renovation and supply of business-to-business (B2B) modular materials, to boost the company’s topline. It will also be looking to invest in direct-to-consumer brands across furniture and other home improvement categories. 

Anuj Srivatsava said that “this is our strategy to expand the market size and the profitability profile of the company.” He also added that “we are looking at ideas, technologies, and people that bring additional functional expertise to drive better outcomes for all our stakeholders. In line with this, we plan to invest across all stages in brands’ lifecycle to help them disrupt the industry further.” 

Singapore-based Livspace is in active discussions with eight to nine companies as it hunts for assets that would help the company generate growth and accelerate its path to profitability. 

The expansion will be headed by Livspace’s chief strategy officer, Ankit Shah. According to Ankit, “Today’s disruptive market combined with the macro-economic environment is driving innovation at every level. This has resulted in exploring new pathways by adding technology and capabilities that will drive profitability. This will help our business across all our markets scale faster, grow our margin stack further, and create strong defensible moats.” 

Founded in 2014 by Ramakant Sharma and Srivatsava, Livspace is a home improvement platform that provides renovation solutions for homeowners right from designing to last-mile fulfillment. The platform brings together designers, brands, manufacturers, and contractors to enable an e-commerce-like experience for home renovations.

The latest announcement comes after the company’s Series F fundraising in March this year, which brought funding of $180m and propelled the company to its unicorn status. The round was led by KKR and saw the participation of existing investors such as Ingka Group Investments, Jungle Ventures, Venturi Partners, and Peugeot Investments. 

The company acquired a majority stake in Qanvast, a Singapore-based home design platform, last December. 

BharatPe Joins The Unicorn Club With Threefold Rising Valuation to $2.85 Billion

BharatPe, merchant payments, and financial services provider, has raised $370 million in a primary and secondary fundraising round led by new investor Tiger Global Management of New York.

Dragoneer Investor Group and Steadfast Capital are two other new investors who participated in this round.

BharatPe joins India’s burgeoning list of unicorn startups with the funding, with its valuation more than tripling to $2.85 billion in only six months.

In February 2021, the company raised $108 million at a valuation of $900 million.

As part of the current fundraising round, new investor Tiger Global invests $100 million in the firm, with Dragoneer and Steadfast contributing $25 million each.

The existing investors have contributed a total of $200 million to the company’s current Series E fundraise, which includes Sequoia Capital, Insight Partners, Coatue Management, Amplo, and Ribbit Capital.

The round also includes a $20 million secondary fundraising to provide liquidity to the company’s employees and angel investors. For BharatPe employees with vested options, this is the third liquidity event.

Suhail Sameer, the company’s group president, has been promoted to CEO and will be in charge of monetization, lending, and the company’s recent banking foray. In addition, he will also join the board of directors of BharatPe.

Ashneer Grover, the co-founder of BharatPe, will take over as managing director of the company. He will continue to lead the company’s strategy, technology, product functions, and working capital financing efforts.

In an interview, Grover mentioned they planned to raise $250 million initially, but the response was highly overcrowded.

They believe the $350 million quick raise will provide them with sufficient runway for the next three years, following which they may consider a public market listing.

Grover added that they still have cash in the bank from their Series C and D rounds and an overall liquidity runway of $500 million, putting them in excellent stead for future development.

He claims that the present financing would be used to tenfold the company’s existing business lines over the following two years.

In collaboration with Centrum Financial Services, BharatPe would use the money to help troubled Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank. In June, the purchase of PMC Bank by Centrum and BharatPe was approved by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Grover also informed that with RBI approval in June, they will invest $250-$300 million (or up to 2,224 crores) in PMC Bank alongside Centrum over the following two years.

However, Grover refused to comment on the PMC Bank acquisition’s future ambitions.

Merchant payments, lending, and financial services offered to merchant partners are among BharatPe’s core business verticals.

It now has a presence in more than 140 cities and intends to expand to 300 towns in the next two years. It also intends to increase the number of point-of-sale devices deployed from 100,000 to 400,000 during the following two fiscal years.

To far, BharatPe has granted almost $300 million in funding to merchant partners and has a $100 million outstanding loan book.

It intends to increase its entire funding to $3 billion by March 2023, with a $1 billion outstanding loan book.

To support this credit expansion, the company plans to raise $700 million in debt capital over the next two years.

The BharatPe platform now processes about $10 billion in yearly payment value, with the firm aiming to reach $30 billion by 2023.

BharatPe also just announced the purchase of PAYBACK India, a multi-brand loyalty platform, to assist its 7 million offline retailers in implementing consumer incentives and loyalty programs.

This marked BharatPe’s debut into the customer-facing sector, as the business intends to launch “Buy Now, Pay Later” services on the PAYBACK platform.

“For the next three years, we do not expect to make any further acquisitions for inorganic growth and will continue to focus on developing our existing lines of business organically,” Grover added.

By the end of the fiscal year 2023, BharatPe hopes to have doubled its merchant partners to 14 million.

Malaysia AirAsia To Buy Indonesia Gojek Through A Stock Swap Deal

Tony Fernandes, CEO of Malaysia’s favorite budget airline carrier AirAsia Group, shared in a virtual press conference that AirAsia will be acquiring Gojek’s Thailand business.

The process will take place through a stock exchange deal, where Gojek’s business will be bought over by AirAsia for $50 million worth of share in AirAsia SuperApp Sdn. Bhd., resulting in Gojek owning a 4.76% stake in AirAsia’s lifestyle platform.

As part of the $50 million, $10 million will be spent on acquiring 100% equity interest in Velox Fintech Co Ltd, while the rest of $40 million will be spent on acquiring 100% equity interest in Velox Fintech (Thailand) Co Ltd.

This took place not long after AirAsia applied for a Malaysia digital banking license, basically conveyed the message there is a shift in business focus towards digitalization.

Tony said that this acquisition marks a big virtual step for AirAsia into the Thai market, as Gojek already has thousands of ride-hailing riders and merchants base in the country. He added that AirAsia will take this opportunity to expand Gojek to other parts of Thailand because AirAsia has opened up many destinations and routes in Thailand.

Gojek CEO Kevin Aluwi said this gives them the opportunity to pay more attention to Vietnam and Singapore markets, to which they seek to commit significant resources to.

Aluwi also said “While we remain committed to our overseas markets, we decided that our priority was to really invest in Singapore and Vietnam, due to the scale of business that we have in those markets. When we realised that we could not properly commit the right resources to make Thailand as ambitious as Singapore as Vietnam, we began the {exit} conversations.”

Gojek is expecting to launch its car and e-payment services this year in Vietnam, and their driver recruitment has begun its process. It is said they will first deploy the service in Ho Chi Minh City and slowly expand to Hanoi.

Indonesia’s GoTo Group Plans Fundraising Before IPO Launch In 2021

Last week, two of Indonesia’s largest startup companies, Gojek and Tokopedia confirmed that they will be merging to form GoTo Group with a deal of US$18 billion to US$22 billion. The merger is said to be Indonesia’s largest with a combined entity of over 100 million monthly active users, 11 million merchant partners, and more than 2 million registered drivers.

GoTo was reported to have registered a transaction of more than 1.8 billion in the year 2020 and together, conquered 2% of Indonesia’s GDP. Moreover, both companies’ executives explained that the plan to implement the merge as a strategy to compete with the two Southeast Asian giants, Grab and Shopee.

With Shopee’s recent launch of its food-delivery feature in Indonesia this year, it became a direct competition with Tokopedia for Indonesia’s market share.

After the announcement of the merger, GoTo Group proclaimed its plans to start a round of fundraising before its initial public offering (IPO) launch before the end of this year. Moving on, during the talk with financial institutions and sovereign wealth funds, GoTo emphasized its scheme to use Gojek as means of transport for Tokopedia packages for customers paid with the group’s e-wallet.

The merge creates shared data resources and customer that makes their services more efficient and cheaper throughout the country. User engagement is also expected to increase with its services after assembling more into one single app, GoPay.

Some people familiar with the merger claimed that an estimate of US$40 billion could be reflected on Gojek and Tokopedia’s recent financial performance. Subsequently after the merge, the two companies, Gojek and Tokopedia will remain in operation as a separate unit under the GoTo Group.

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