Latest News Today: Govt May Split Coal India, Bitcoin Plunges, Elon Musk Unveils Neuralink & More

Icertis raises $115m in funding round led by Greycroft and PremjiInvest, enters unicorn club. OYO and RA Hospitality Holdings seek CCI’s approval for proposed combination. SEBI and MCA tighten the noose around IndiGo, seek explanation regarding co-founder charges and governance lapses. Govt may split Coal India into separate listed entities. Tech giants are bombarded with criticisms by US Congressional Committee. Facebook’s Libra gets pilloried by Senators. Bitcoin plunges over crypto criticism, sheds a third of its value. Elon Musk reveals details of his secretive “brain-machine interface” startup Neuralink.

 

Moving on to the top Business news of the day.

 

 UNICORN 

 

Icertis raises $115m in funding round led by Greycroft and PremjiInvest, enters unicorn club. OYO and RA Hospitality Holdings seek CCI’s approval for proposed combination.
  
Marching Towards the North of $1bn: Seattle and Pune-based software company Icertis has raised $115m in a funding round led by US-based venture capital firm Greycroft and PremjiInvest, valuing the company well above $1bn. 
 
Like a Boss: With this injection, Icertis has now joined the ranks of SaaS unicorns such as Freshworks and Druva.
 
Put to Good Use: The proceeds from the funding round will be used to invest in new technologies like blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to expand its global footprint.
 
In Other News…: As per reports, OYO and Cayman Islands-based company RA Hospitality Holdings have filed a notification with the Competition Commission of India (CCI) seeking approval for the proposed combination of the entities.
 
The document requests CCI to allow both the purchase of new shares as well as “the acquisition of part of the equity securities held by certain existing shareholders of OYO”.
 
The move appears to be in line with Ritesh Agarwal’s intent to raise his stake to 30% from the current 10% in the hospitality platform.
 
More on this here

 

 REGULATIONS 

 

SEBI and MCA tighten the noose around IndiGo, seek explanation regarding co-founder charges and governance lapses.
 
Oh My IndiGod: Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Ministry of Corporate Affairs have tightened the noose around IndiGo, which has been caught in an uproar of late. 
 
SEBI has asked the airline to submit all documents, including the EY report that examined the issue of related-party transactions, while MCA has asked IndiGo to respond point-by-point to the 10 issues raised by co-founder Rakesh Gangwal.
 
Previously: Rakesh Gangwal had accused co-founder Rahul Bhatia of several violations at IndiGo including those pertaining to related-party transactions and the appointment of senior management personnel, directors and the chairman, who has always been independent by convention.
 
Bandersnatch: According to recent polls by SurveyMonkey, over 60% of American regard the threat to online privacy as a "crisis" – a 10% jump from a year ago.
 
Now, while there is a common consensus amongst regulators and policy-makers regarding the need to rein in tech and social media giants, there has been little agreement on how to go about the same fearing “unintended consequences.” Here are some popular views on the trouble with regulating tech discussed at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech conference.

 

 PSUs 

 

Govt may split Coal India into separate listed entities. 
 
Divide and Rise: The Indian government is considering splitting Coal India, the world's largest coal miner, into separate listed companies.
 
The state-run company and the Ministry of Coal are reviewing a proposal by the Department of Investment & Public Asset Management to list four of Coal India’s biggest production units, as well as its exploration arm, in an attempt to boost competition and raise funds.
 
The four units are Mahanadi Coalfields, South Eastern Coalfields, Northern Coalfields and Central Coalfields. The fifth unit would be Central Mine Planning & Design Institute.
 
It’s Raining PSUs: Budget 2019 elaborated on the government’s decision to carry out strategic divestment in some PSUs. This could result in more PSU stocks flooding the stock market in the short-term. Here are some insights on what investors could potentially do in such a scenario.

 

 BIG TECH 

 

Tech giants are bombarded with criticisms by US Congressional Committee. Facebook’s Libra gets pilloried by Senators. Bitcoin plunges over crypto criticism, sheds a third of its value.
 
Big Tech Gets Grilled Big Time: US Congressman Joe Neguse asked a Facebook official to name the world’s largest social networks.
 
When the official feigned ignorance, Neguse began listing them: Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp – all owned by Facebook.
 
Neguse said, “We have a word for that and that word is monopoly.”
 
The two-day Congressional hearing on big tech’s growing power and anti-competitive behaviour saw Democrats and Republicans, usually at loggerheads with one another, united in their criticism of tech giants.
 
Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple found themselves in the line of fire, accused of fraudulent actions and exploiting their dominance to enable a “startup kill zone”.
 
In Zuck We Don’t Trust: Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra was a major topic of discussion at the hearings and the verdict was unanimous – Facebook cannot be trusted.
 
Senators said the company was “delusional” to think people would trust them with their money after the numerous scandals it had been involved in. Facebook was asked to “clean [its] house” before launching into fintech.
 
Bitcoin Bedlam: The furore surrounding Libra is rubbing off on Bitcoin too. It has lost a third of its value to slid to $9,300 from the year-high of $13,000 only a week ago.

 

 NEW TECH 

 

Elon Musk reveals details of his secret “brain-machine interface” startup Neuralink.
 
Out of the Shadows: Elon Musk on Tuesday evening for the first time revealed some details on the progress of its secret “brain-machine interface” startup, Neuralink. 
 
Read Your Mind: Conceived in 2017, the project claims to have designed very small “threads” – smaller than a human hair – that can be injected into the brain to detect the activity of neurons. 
 
These implants could potentially allow human beings with symptoms of chronic medical conditions, including epilepsy, to control computers and smartphones using their thoughts.
 
Details of the startup here.
 
Could Scooters Boost the Value of your Real Estate?: This was one of the questions probed into at Fortune's recent Brainstorm Tech conference. 
 
David Richter, Chief Business Officer of Lime, an e-scooter startup, seems to agree.
 
Richter views bikes, scooters and ride-sharing services as replacements for traditional automobile ownership. He believes that with fewer cars parked, cities and other neighborhoods could be redesigned and beautified, thereby potentially increasing the value of their surroundings.
 
At the conference, many other top entrepreneurs nodded in agreement. A peak into the discussion about the future of transportation here

 

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