Ather bags $ 128 million amid the darkness of electric vehicles; SoftBank will cut investment, says Masayoshi Son

More than two dozen Electric scooters have caught fire all over India in recent months, leaving their producers hasty to contain the fallout, which includes a government investigation. In this climate, in the midst of a general contraction in funding, the manufacturer of electric scooters Ather Energy raised $ 128 million from, among others, the sovereign wealth fund of the Indian government.

Ather raises $ 128 million

Credit: Giphy

So in this letter:
■ SoftBank to Reduce Investments by More than Half This Year: CEO
■ Byju is in talks with lenders for a $ 1 billion loan: report
■ Jack Dorsey says he won’t be returning as Twitter CEO


Ather raises $ 128 million led by the Indian government’s sovereign wealth fund, Hero MotoCorp

Tarun Mehta, co-founder and CEO of Ather Energy

Tarun Mehta, co-founder and CEO of Ather Energy

Electric scooter manufacturer Ather Energy said it raised $ 128 million in financing even as its rivals have struggled to contain the fallout from a series of recent electric vehicle fires and battery explosions.

Details: The round was led by the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), the sovereign wealth fund of the Indian government, and existing investor Hero MotoCorp.

Incidentally, the Indian government is currently investigating many of Ather’s rivals over the recent fires.

Big Brother? Hero MotoCorp, having first invested in Ather in 2016, is its largest shareholder with a stake of approximately 35%. But co-founder and CEO of Ather Tarun Mehta said the company will remain independent and that all of its shareholders are aligned towards the goal of an initial public offering (IPO) in the “not-so-distant future.”

Mehta said the new funds will be used to expand Ather’s manufacturing facilities, invest in research and development and its charging infrastructure, and grow its retail network.

Electric vehicle companies feel the heat: More than two dozen electric scooters manufactured by Ola Electric, Okinawa Autotech, Pure EV, Jitendra EV and Boom Motor have caught fire across India since March. Ola Electric, Pure EV and Okinawa then said they will recall over 7,000 vehicles combined.

But Mehta said these incidents didn’t dampen Ather’s sales. “More than 10,000 orders arrive every month,” he said. “So the demand is very high and it has continued to grow even during this fairly dark chapter for the electric vehicle industry,” he said.

government champion: In April, the government formed a committee to investigate electric vehicle fires and explosions. On May 7, IANS reported, citing sources, that experts found defects in battery cells and battery design of nearly all electric vehicles that caught fire.

Ola Electric denied this, saying a preliminary assessment by its experts indicated it probably was “An isolated thermal accident”.


ETtech business done

ETtech business done

■ Fintech startup BharatX raised $ 4.5 million in a funding round from Y Combinator, 8i Ventures, Multiply Ventures and Soma Capital. The company said it plans to use the funds to expand its team and develop its product.

■ Technology platform for wealth Bhive.fund has raised funds by key investors, including Nikhil Kamath, co-founder of Zerodha. Kamath did not share the details of his investment. Bhive.fund plans to raise $ 1 million in a pre-Serie A round to fuel its growth.

■ Fanztar, a blockchain-based monetization platform for creators, raised Rs 5 crore in a funding round led by India Quotient. Angel investors included ShareChat founders Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh and Farid Ahsan; Sarthak Misra, investment director of SoftBank India; Manohar Charan, CFO of ShareChat; and Tarsame Mittal, founder of TM Ventures.

Tweet of the day


SoftBank will cut investment by more than half this year, Son says

Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said Thursday this year the company will invest only halfor even a quarter of what it did last year.

“The investment peak was in Q1, but there was a huge slowdown in Q4. Compared to the investment amount made last year, I would say the new investment amount will be half or could be as small as a quarter, “Son said in a post-earnings phone call in Tokyo.

Time for defense: Son’s comment confirms what the startup ecosystem in India and around the world has long been expecting: a slowdown in the financing of big-tickets driven by macroeconomic factors and the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis.

One of its presentation slides, after the company announced its final quarter results, indicated that “defense” would be the Japanese fund’s strategy for now.

SoftBank will not only slow its investment pace, it will also spend more time on due diligence and have stricter criteria for new investments, Son said.

Record losses: SoftBank’s “defense” strategy comes as its Vision Fund posted a record loss of $ 26 billion for the year.

Tiger Global, another aggressive tech investor, reported a loss of $ 17 billion amid the global technology sell-off, the Financial Times recently reported.

Ups and downs: Among its listed portfolio companies, SoftBank recorded an unrealized loss of $ 600 million in fiscal 22 from its $ 1.4 billion investment in payment company Paytm.

soft bank

But the parent of Policybazaar PB Fintech, which went public the same week as Paytm, reported an unrealized gain of $ 300 million over the same period on a $ 100 million investment from SoftBank.


Byju is in talks with lenders for a $ 1 billion loan: report

Byjus

Giant of edtech Byju is in talks with lenders to raise more than $ 1 billion in funding, sources told Bloomberg.

Sources said it is in talks with banks, including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase & Co., for the loan, which it will use to acquire another edtech company. They did not disclose the details of the acquisition objective and said the terms of the transaction and the financing have yet to be finalized.

Byju’s Wish: Byju’s, which plans to go public soon, acquired about 10 companies for a total of $ 2.5 billion in 2021, according to GlobalData. These included Aakash Educational Services for $ 1 billion Other Great learning for $ 600 billion.

On May 10 we reported, citing the sources, that Great Learning acquired Singapore’s executive education provider Northwest Executive Education for about $ 100 million in a stock and cash deal.

Byju’s was valued at $ 22 billion after raising money earlier this year and is working on its IPO plans.


Jack Dorsey says he won’t be returning as Twitter CEO

Jack Dorsey

Ever since his friend Elon Musk reached a deal to buy Twitter, some have suggested that the social media platform’s cofounder return as CEO. Now Dosey silenced those rumorsanswering: “No, I’ll never be CEO again” to a Twitter user who predicted he would return to lead the company he cofounded.

Dorsey believes no one should be Twitter’s CEO. She tweeted a few days ago: “In principle, I don’t think anyone should own or operate Twitter. It wants to be a public good at the protocol level, not a company.”

Foggy: Since the Twitter board has accepted Musk’s $ 44 billion takeover bid on April 25, there was little clarity about the company’s new leadership once the deal was concluded. However, a recent regulatory filing showed that Musk was in talks with Dorsey to contribute his actions to the proposed acquisition.

Exclude: Dorsey has had a tumultuous run as the head of the social media company. He was replaced as CEO of Twitter in 2008, two years after the service’s launch, but reprized the lead role in 2015 before handing over the role to chief technology officer Parag Agarwal late last year.


IPO-bound Navi appoints Meesho founder Vidit Atrey as board member

Vidit Aatrey, co-founder and AMP; Mesho CEO

Vidit Aatrey, co-founder and CEO of Meesho

Fintech startup Navi’s named Vidit Aatreyco-founder and CEO of the e-commerce startup Meesho, as an independent director on its board, starting April 9.

The Board: Navi’s other board members include:

  • Co-founders Sachin Bansal and Ankit Agarwal
  • Anand Sinha, former Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India
  • Abhijit Bose, head of WhatsApp India
  • Shripad Shrikrishna Nadkarni, an FMCG industry veteran
  • Usha A. Narayanan, who previously worked with PwC and was on the board of Bank of Baroda

With Aatrey’s appointment, Navi’s board, which now comprises seven members, will have a majority of independent directors.

Quote: “I am delighted to welcome Bobby (Abhijit), Shripad, Usha and most recently Vidit to our board. Each of them brings a unique perspective and I believe they will add significant strategic value to Navi as we continue to grow, “said Bansal. He added,” These appointments further strengthen our commitment to setting high standards in corporate governance. “

Today’s ETtech Top 5 newsletter was edited by Zaheer Merchant and Aishwarya Dabhade in Mumbai. Graphics and illustrations by Rahul Awasthi.