Rana Kapoor to sell entire stake in Yes Bank. Flipkart Co-Founder Sachin Bansal buys 94% stake in microlender CRIDS. Amazon introduces smartglasses and smart ring. Chicago University professor working on a device that uses electrical stimulation to help users with physical functions. Several states in the US ban e-cigarettes as death toll rises. Rivigo becomes India's eighth unicorn in 2019. Darwinbox raises $15mn in funding.
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The What: Rana Kapoor is seeking to sell his entire stake in Yes Bank to Brookfield Asset Management in an attempt to protect his other unlisted entities such as the Delhi Dabang Kabaddi Club, Awfis Solutions and Art Housing Finance.
The move comes as lenders are pushing for more cash cover against amounts borrowed by Rana Kapoor, following a 78% fall in Yes Bank’s shares in the last six months.
The Kapoor family controlled 10.6% in Yes Bank until the end of June 2019 but has been selling to prevent lenders from invoking the pledges. Financial Express
Amazon Around Your Fingers: Amazon has forayed into wearables. As part of its “Day 1 Editions” programme, which seeks to bring innovative products to consumers for their feedback, it has announced an Alexa-enabled ring and smartglasses.
The ring – Echo Loop – is a sleek, black device with a button to activate Alexa or Google Assistant. It vibrates when your phone gets notifications and answers the questions you ask through your mobile network. The Echo Frame, meanwhile, performs the same assistant functions of the Loop except that it’s a pair of glasses and it doesn’t have the fancy AR tech seen in the last Google Glass. TNW
Man is Machine, Machine is Man: Speaking of wearable technology, a professor at the University of Chicago is trying to further bridge the gap between man and machine. Dr. Pedro Lopes and his research team are focusing on building an EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) device that can be worn as a sleeve and send electrical impulses to the wearer’s brain at the right time and in the right fashion to make their muscles move involuntarily to perform a physical task. If the project is a success, users would be able to instantaneously perform tasks they never learnt just by wearing the device – tasks like playing a new instrument or operating complex machinery. CNBC
E-Smoking Kills: As reports of a mysterious vaping-related disease spread across the US, more and more states are stepping in to fill the federal regulatory void to enact legislation of their own. Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and California are some of the states that have imposed prohibitory orders on the sale of e-cigarettes or outright banned them altogether. Time
Juul Gets Jostled: Juul, the wildly popular e-cigarette company that has been under fierce fire from politicians in the US, is undergoing systemic changes. Its CEO has been replaced and it will suspend all TV, print and digital ads and stop some of its lobbying efforts. CNN Business
US Not An Outlier: This regulatory opposition to e-cigarettes is spreading across the world. In India, a proposal to ban e-cigarettes was approved by the Cabinet recently. Elsewhere, the legal status of vaping is as diverse as its medical status. In some countries like Brazil and Thailand, they are outright banned. In others like the Philippines and South Africa, they are mostly unregulated. In others like the UK, they are strictly regulated. The nature of bans also varies: while in some countries like Portugal e-cigarettes containing nicotine are banned, in others like Turkey indoor vaping is prohibited. Details on e-cigarettes and the debates surrounding them can be read here.
One More Unicorn: The list of startups that became unicorns in 2019 has its eighth entrant with Rivigo raising $4.9mn from South Korean fund KB Platform Fund. It is now valued at $1.05bn, up from $950mn in February last year. Rivigo is a platform that enables truck drivers to hand over the vehicle to other drivers at designated pit stops so that the truck is not idle at any point during the journey and the drivers aren’t behind the wheel for hours on end without sleep. Livemint
So Much SaaS: Hyderabad-based SaaS startup Darwinbox has raised $15mn in a boost to its attempts to expand its business overseas. The company operates a cloud-based human resource management platform. The Series B round – which was led by Sequoia India – moves Darwinbox’s total raise to 19.7mn.
How to Bid Goodbye to Useless Meetings: In business, meetings are a ritualistic affair. They happen on a daily basis – in the US alone 55mn meetings are held every day – and are largely counterproductive if not conducted properly. No wonder that 70% of senior managers consider meetings unproductive. How to make meetings less terrible and more efficient? For insights into this, listen to this new podcast by Freakonomics.
Tank Man: Three decades ago, Tiananmen Square, Beijing was the epicentre of mass student-led protests against the Chinese government demanding democracy, reform and freedoms of speech and the press. The Communist Party reacted on June 4 by sending the Army to occupy parts of Beijing and the Square itself, killing hundreds of protestors and injuring thousands. The next day, as a column of tanks was leaving the Square, it was stopped by a man who stood in front of the first tank and blocked its path. He kept shifting his position, temporarily halting the tanks’ progress.
Footage of “Tank Man” was smuggled out to the world and today it is one of the most iconic images ever (although heavily censored in China, just like the protests). FEE’s Words & Numbers podcast discusses the enduring legacy of Tiananmen and Tank Man.
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