Google invests $4.5 billion in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms

Google has become the latest high-profile firm to back India’s Reliance Jio Platforms. The search giant is investing $4.5 billion for a 7.73% stake in the top Indian telecom network, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani said on Wednesday.

The investment today from Google is one of the rare instances where the Android-maker has joined its global rival Facebook in backing a firm. Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms, which has amassed over 400 million subscribers, in April this year for a 9.99% stake in it. Facebook is the largest minority stakeholder in Jio Platforms.

Jio Platforms, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries (India’s most valued firm) has raised over $20.6 billion in the past four months from 13 investors by selling about 33% stake in the firm.

Google’s new investment gives Jio Platforms an equity valuation of $58 billion — the same valuation implied by Facebook. Every other investor including General Atlantic, Silver Lake, Qualcomm, Intel, and Vista have paid a 12.5% premium for their stake in Jio Platforms.

As part of Wednesday’s strategic announcement, Google and Reliance Jio Platforms will work on a customized-version of Android operating system to develop low-cost, entry-level smartphones to serve the next hundreds of millions of users, said Ambani.

“Getting technology into the hand of more people is a big mission at Google,” said Sundar Pichai, chief executive at Google via a video chat on Wednesday. “Together we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones. This effort will unlock new opportunities, further power the vibrant ecosystem of applications and push innovation to drive growth for the new Indian economy,” he said.

The new deal further illustrates the opportunities foreign investors see in Jio Platforms that has upended the telecommunications market in India with cut-rate voice calls and mobile data tariffs.

Analysts at Bernstein said last month that they expect Jio Platforms to reach 500 million customers by 2023, and control half of the market by 2025. Jio Platforms competes with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, a joint venture between British giant Vodafone and Indian tycoon Kumar Mangalam Birla’s Aditya Birla Group.

Google, which like Facebook reaches nearly every online user in India, said on Monday that it planned to invest $10 billion in Asia’s third largest economy over the next five to seven years.

Jio Platforms also operates a range of digital services including a music streaming player and a video conferencing app. On Wednesday, Jio Platforms unveiled its newest offering: the Jio Glass.

Jio Platforms executives said users will be able to perform video calls and access more than two dozen apps while wearing the Jio Glass. No word on when Jio Platforms plans to make this available to consumers and what it would cost.

Some investors have told TechCrunch in recent months that Reliance Jio Platforms’ owner — India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani — and his closeness to the ruling political party in India are also crucial to why the digital unit of Reliance Industries is so attractive to many.

They believe that buying a stake in Jio Platforms would lower the regulatory burden they currently face in India. The investors requested anonymity as they did not wish to talk about the political tie ups publicly.

A person familiar with the matter at one of the 13 firms that has backed Reliance Jio Platforms said that the Indian firm is also enticing as globally companies are trying to cut down their reliance and exposure on China.

India, and the U.S., in recent months have taken actions to limit their reliance on Chinese firms. New Delhi last month banned 59 apps and services including TikTok that are developed by Chinese firms. Reliance Jio Platforms has interestingly yet to raise capital from any Chinese investor.

More to follow…

Qualcomm to invest $97 million in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms

Qualcomm has become the newest high-profile backer of four-year-old Reliance Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $15.7 billion in the past 12 weeks from as many investors.

On Sunday evening, Qualcomm Ventures said it will invest $97 million in Reliance Jio Platforms to acquire a 0.15% equity stake in the top Indian telecom operator.

Reliance Jio Platforms, which competes with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea in India, has disrupted the Indian telecommunications market by offering cut-rate voice and data plans. It has amassed nearly 400 million subscribers to become the top carrier in the world’s second largest internet market in less than four years of its existence.

Its dominance in the Indian telecom operator while maintaining an ARPU (average revenue per user) that match those of its rivals has made Reliance Jio Platforms — a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, India’s most valued firm — an attractive firm for a roster of high-profile investors. Facebook, Silver Lake, General Atlantic, Intel are some of the firms that have backed Jio Platforms at the height of a global pandemic. Jio Platforms has sold 25.24% stake in the firm during the period.

The digital unit for Reliance Industries also operates a number of digital services including streaming services for music, live TV channels, and movies and TV shows. Earlier this month, the Indian firm added a new service to its arsenal: A video conferencing service.

Steve Mollenkopf, chief executive of Qualcomm, said the firm believes that Reliance Jio Platforms “will deliver a new set of services and experiences to Indian consumers” in the future.

“With unmatched speeds and emerging use cases, 5G is expected to transform every industry in the coming years. Jio Platforms has led the digital revolution in India through its extensive digital and technological capabilities. As an enabler and investor with a longstanding presence in India, we look forward to playing a role in Jio’s vision to further revolutionize India’s digital economy,” he said in a statement.

Some investors have told TechCrunch in recent months that Reliance Jio Platforms’ owner — India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani — and his closeness to the ruling political party in India are also crucial to why the digital unit of Reliance Industries is so attractive to many.

They believe that buying a stake in Jio Platforms would lower the regulatory burden they currently face in India. The investors requested anonymity as they did not wish to talk about the political tie ups publicly.

A person familiar with the matter at one of the 12 firms that has backed Reliance Jio Platforms said that the Indian firm is also enticing as globally companies are trying to cut down their reliance and exposure on China.

India, and the U.S., in recent months have taken actions to limit their reliance on Chinese firms. New Delhi last month banned 59 apps and services including TikTok that are developed by Chinese firms. Reliance Jio Platforms has interestingly yet to raise capital from any Chinese investor.

“Qualcomm has been a valued partner for several years and we have a shared vision of connecting everything by building a robust and secure wireless and digital network and extending the benefits of digital connectivity to everyone in India,” said Ambani in a statement Sunday.

A recapitalization reckoning

If you’re an angel who invested in a startup that was meant to go public in 2014, you might be getting a little bit impatient. High-risk, high-reward investing has lost its shine in this environment: the stock market is a mess these days, and you want your cash back.

Enter recapitalization events, where startups restructure their entire cap table to squeeze out old investors, bring on new ones and shift the way equity and debt is managed. For investors, it’s a killer way to enter a company on friendlier terms than normal (read: desperation), and a nice way to get liquidity on a startup you’re betting on.

For founders, it’s rarely good news, as departing investors is not a metric they’re going to add to the pitch deck. As one investor said on background, the spur of coronavirus-related recapitalization events shows “hella dilution for desperate times.”

That’s what makes Workhuman’s transparency with its recent recapitalization event all the more enticing.

Last year, the human-resources platform brought in $580 million in revenue from customers like LinkedIn, Cisco, J&J and other clients. In April, business grew 40%. Co-founder and CEO Eric Mosley says business has grown five times in size since the company pulled back from its 2014 plans to IPO. Workhuman hasn’t raised a single venture round since 2004 (and doesn’t plan to any time soon).

Being conservative has paid off; although Workhuman has operated for nearly two decades, Mosley says he thinks the company is still at the “tip of the iceberg.” The company recently had a recapitalization event to sell the stakes of its earliest investors, who cut a $200,000 check more than 20 years ago.

Flipkart invests $35 million in Indian fashion brand to target youth

Flipkart on Thursday announced it has invested $35 million in Arvind Fashions for a significant minority stake in one the decades-old Indian firm’s subsidiaries as the Walmart-owned firm looks to widen its hold on fashion e-commerce in the world’s second largest internet market.

The e-commerce firm, which operates market-leading fashion e-commerce firm Myntra, said it was acquiring a stake in Arvind Fashions‘ Arvind Youth Brands, which operates Flying Machine brand in India. The two companies said today the new investment strengthens their partnership as they look to serve demands and needs of the “fashion-conscious youth” in India. Arvind Fashions began selling items on Flipkart six years ago.

91-year-old Arvind Fashions runs of the nation’s largest fashion brands, carrying apparels from Polo Assn, Arrow, GAP, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Aeropostale, the Children’s Place and Ed Hardy among other local and international firms. The Indian e-commerce market for fashion products was worth $7 billion last year, research firm Forrester told TechCrunch.

“Flying Machine is a brand that is known in households across India, popular with the youth and synonymous with value and style. Through this investment, we look forward to partnering with the team at Arvind Youth Brands to continue to grow the market for its portfolio of products and enhance the strong brand equity that has been built over the last few decades,” said Kalyan Krishnamurthy, chief executive officer of Flipkart Group, in a statement.

The partnership with the Flipkart Group is aimed at helping Arvind Fashions accelerate its online growth strategy, said J. Suresh, managing director and chief executive of Arvind Fashions.

“Given the strong existing relationship with the Flipkart Group, and their presence in online fashion, it was an obvious choice for us to enter into this engagement through which Flipkart and Myntra will be our preferred online partner for the Flying Machine brand, while we continue to grow our offline sales through channels like exclusive brand stores, department stores and multi-brand stores,” he said in a statement.

More to follow…

Colvin raises $15M to rethink the flower supply chain

At first glance, Colvin — which recently announced that it has raised a $15 million Series B — might look like just another flower and plant delivery company, but co-founder and CEO Andres Cester said the startup has a much grander vision.

“We were born with the ambition the company that would redesign global flower trade,” he said.

Apparently, when Cester and his co-founder/COO Sergi Bastardas started researching the flower supply chain, they found an industry that was both “fragmented” in terms of growsers and sellers, but also surprisingly centralized, with the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in the Netherlands accounting for 77% of all flower bulbs sold globally.

With all the middlemen, Cester said flowers end up being more expensive (with the growers getting a smaller share of the overall payment), and it takes longer for the flowers to reach the consumer.

So the startup created a marketplace where consumers are buying flowers from straight the growers, with Colvin as the only intermediary. That results in average savings of 50% to 100% compared to online competitors, Cester said. (For example, the bouquets featured on the Colvin homepage all cost about €33 or €34).

And while the flower business is hurting overall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bastardas said consumers are turning to online options, with Colvin seeing a fourfold sales increase year-over-year, and delivery volumes worth $1 million in a single day. The challenge, he said, has been making sure to deliver those flowers within the promised time window.

Colvin founders

Image Credits: Colvin

Cester said Colvin started by selling directly to consumers because it was a good way to build the supply from growers, and that consumer sales should a become a profitable, “cash-generating business.” However, the company’s big focus moving forward is building out its sales to flower wholesalers, who in turn sell to the retailers.

“We’re envisioning the B2B part of the business is going to drive most of the returns and valuation,” Bastardas added.

Colvin was founded in Spain and currently operates in Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal. There are no plans to come to the U.S. anytime soon, but Cester said, “We believe that if we really want to … redesign how the flower industry works, we’re going to have to land in U.S. sooner or later.”

The startup has now raised a total of $27 million. The new round was led by Italian investment fund Milano Investment Partners, with participation from P101 sgr and Samaipata.

And if you’re wondering about the name, Bastardas said the company was named for civil rights pioneer Claudette Colvin, who was arrested in several months before Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person.

It’s an incongruous choice for a flower startup, but Bastardas said the founders took inspiration from Colvin’s story and the idea that “from several small actions, we can really change an industry.”

PQShield raises $7M for quantum-ready cryptographic security solutions

A deep tech startup building cryptographic solutions to secure hardware, software, and communications systems for a future when quantum computers may render many current cybersecurity approaches useless is today emerging out of stealth mode with $7 million in funding and a mission to make cryptographic security something that cannot be hackable, even with the most sophisticated systems, by building systems today that will continue to be usable in a post-quantum future.

PQShield (PQ being short for “post-quantum”), a spin out from Oxford University, is being backed in a seed round led by Kindred Capital, with participation also Crane Venture Partners, Oxford Sciences Innovation and various angel investors, including Andre Crawford-Brunt, Deutsche Bank’s former global head of equities.

PQShield was founded in 2018, and its time in stealth has not been in vain.

The startup claims to have the UK’s highest concentration of cryptography PhDs outside academia and classified agencies, and it is one of the biggest contributors to the NIST cybersecurity framework (alongside academic institutions and huge tech companies), which is working on creating new cryptographic standards, which take into account the fact that quantum computing will likely make quick work of breaking down the standards that are currently in place.

“The scale is massive,” Dr Ali El Kaafarani, a research fellow at Oxford’s Mathematical Institute and former engineer at Hewlett-Packard Labs, who is the founder and CEO of PQShield said of that project. “For the first time we are changing the whole of public key infrastructure.”

And according to El Kaafarani, the startup has customers — companies that build hardware and software services, or run communications systems that deal with sensitive information and run the biggest risks from being hacked.

They include entities in the financial and government sectors that it’s not naming, as well as its first OEM customer, Bosch. El Kaafarani said in an interview that it is also in talks with at least one major communications and messaging provider exploring more security for end-to-end encryption on messaging networks. Other target applications could include keyless cars, connected IoT devices, and cloud services.

The gap in the market the PQShield is aiming to address is the fact that while there are already a number of companies exploring the cutting edge of cryptographic security in the market — they include large tech companies like Amazon and MicrosoftHub Security, Duality, another startup out of the UK focused on post-quantum cryptography called Post Quantum and a number of others — the concern is that quantum computing will be utilised to crack even the most sophisticated cryptography such as the RSA and Elliptic Curve cryptographic standards.

This has not been much of a threat so far since quantum computers are still not widely available and used, but there have been a number of signs of a breakthrough on the horizon.

El Kaafarani says that PQShield is the first startup to approach that predicament with a multi-pronged solution aimed at a variety of use cases, including solutions that encompass current cryptographic standards and provide a migration path the next generation of how they will look — meaning, they can be commercially deployed today, even without quantum computers being a commercial reality, but in preparation for that.

“Whatever we encrypt now can be harvested, and once we have a fully functioning quantum computer people can use that to get back to the data and the sensitive information,” he said.

For hardware applications, it’s designed a System on Chip (SoC) solution that will be licensed to hardware manufacturers (Bosch being the first OEM). For software applications, there is an SDK that secures messaging and is protected by “post-quantum algorithms” based on a secure, Signal-derived protocol.

Thinking about and building for the full spectrum of applications is central to PQShield’s approach, he added. “In security it’s important to understand the whole ecosystem since everything is about connected components.”

Some sectors in the tech world have been especially negatively impacted by the coronavirus and its consequences, a predicament that has been exacerbated by uncertainties over the future of the global economy.

I asked El Kaafarani if that translated to a particularly tricky time to raise money as a deep tech startup, given that deep tech companies so often work on long-term problems that may not have immediate commercial outcomes.

Interestingly, he said that wasn’t the case.

“We talked to VCs that were interested in deep tech to begin with, which made the discussion a lot easier,” he said. “And the fact is that we’re a security company, and that is one of the areas that is doing well. Everything has become digitised, and we have all become more heavily reliant on our digital connections. We ultimately help make the digital world more secure. There are people who understand that, and so it wasn’t too difficult to talk to them and understand the importance of this company.”

Indeed, Chrysanthos Chrysanthou, partner at Kindred Capital, echoed that sentiment:

“With some of the brightest minds in cryptography, mathematics and engineering, and boasting world-class software and hardware solutions, PQShield is uniquely positioned to lead the charge in protecting businesses from one of the most profound threats to their future,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier to support the team as it works to set a new standard for information security and defuse risks resulting from the rise of quantum.”

K4Connect, a startup bringing tech to senior living centers, closes its $21M Series B

K4Connect, a startup focused on bringing new technologies like voice assistance, home automation, digital messaging and more to older adults and those living with disabilities, has closed on $21 million in Series B funding. The B round had originally wrapped in October 2018, but was extended with the recent addition of $7.7 million led by Forte Ventures.

Others taking part in the round include existing investors Sierra Ventures, Intel Capital, AXA Venture Partners, the Ziegler Link•Age Fund, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest, Topmark Partners (formerly Stonehenge Growth Equity Partners) and Traverse. As a result of the new funding, Forte Ventures’ Louis Rajczi will join the startup’s board. To date, K4Connect has raised $31 million in venture funding.

Image Credits: K4Connect

Notably, the additional funds were raised amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has been disproportionately impacting older adults in care facilities, cutting off their communication from loved ones and disrupting their daily activities.

The K4Connect platform, which today serves over 800 continuing care, independent living and assisted living communities across the U.S., can help to address many of the challenges these communities are now facing.

The startup was co-founded in 2013 by Scott Moody, the entrepreneur whose biometrics company AuthenTec sold to Apple, where it became the basis for Touch ID.

Now K4Connect’s CEO, Moody had moved to Raleigh, N.C. to retire, but soon realized he still had energy left to start another company. Originally, the startup’s focus had been on bringing smart home technologies together through what’s now K4Connect’s patented operating system, FusionOS. But the team hadn’t initially narrowed in on a particular market.

That changed when Moody met a man, Eric, who was an advocate for the homeless and living with MS. He told the founder that when he wakes up the morning, he has the energy for about a thousand good steps during his day — and how he uses those steps defines the quality of his life. He said the smart home tech K4Connect was developing could help him make his life better.

Moody immediately pivoted the company to redirect its focus on serving those in similar situations, which didn’t just include individuals living with disabilities but also the broader senior market.

Image Credits: K4Connect

Today, the FusionOS-powered platform integrates a suite of solutions designed for residents in independent or assisted living facilities as well as other care facilities. This includes tools to stay connected to their families though voice and video messaging, as well as those for accessing a digital resident directory, playing games, and staying informed on the latest community news — ranging from COVID-19 updates to daily meal menus to updated visitation policies, or anything else the facility wants to broadcast.

For the facilities who purchase the software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for their communities, there are other productivity tools they can use, like those for event management, resident surveys, resident and family management, communications, prospect communications, and more. Due the coronavirus outbreak, K4Connect is even developing an expanded video chat service that will allow residents to video call staff for their requests, instead of having staff enter their rooms.

 

Another key aspect to K4Connect’s solution is its smart home automation functionality.

The company provisions Alexa devices for residents, so they don’t have to configure devices themselves — they just plug them in. It also supports other home automation devices like smart thermostats, smart lights, motion sensors, sleep tracking devices, and more. 

This is all managed by way of the company’s “K4Community” solution powered by the underlying FusionOS technology. Residents can access this as an app their own smartphones, on preprovisioned tablets, or even through digital signage in the facility itself.

The SaaS solution is priced based on per-resident basis and the cost depends on which modules the facility wants to use in their own setup. This can range from a few dollars per month per resident to tens of dollars per month per resident, Moody says, and includes support.

Image Credits: K4Connect

As it turns out, K4Connect had a bit of a head start in terms of working on solutions more specifically designed to meet the needs of its communities amid the coronavirus outbreak, thanks to advice from its investors.

“Having investors like Intel and AXA did provide a wider perspective,” says Moody. “I figured, look, they’re really concerned. They’re seeing this issue from a wider geographic perspective than we are,” he explains.

Moody already knew that even the flu impacted older adults more than the general population. Due to K4Connect’s market of seniors, he multiplied what investors were saying could be the impact of coronavirus by a much larger factor.

“We kind of saw it coming,” Moody admits. “Many people were not completely bought in yet at the end of February. But just at the start of March, we launched something called ‘Project COVID 911.’ I just thought it was going to have a significant impact on the economy, but more importantly, the people we serve. And we had to be in a position to react and support,” he adds.

“If I was wrong, then we were going to be more prepared. And if I was right, then we would be in a situation where we can actually help serve people,” says Moody.

K4Connect adjusted its roadmap to focus on specific areas, like communications, content delivery, and pre-provisioning the Alexa Dot speakers, in order to limit time spent installing in residents’ rooms, among other things. Today, its solution offers features like resident-to-resident video chat for those now stuck in their rooms, tools for booking time slots in the dining area for facilities limiting large groups, access to live streamed content — like those yoga classes you can’t attend in person — and more.

With the added funding, K4Connect, now a team of 57 full-time, plans to further expand into the senior market, including not only those in facilities and senior communities, but also those living in affordable housing on their own. The team is actively developing solutions for this market segment, Moody says.

We are incredibly fortunate in our investor relationships in that they not only believe in our vision but equally value our mission,” Moody said, in a statement about the new funding. “Forte Ventures is a prime example of that relationship and we’re proud to welcome them to the bench of our valued investors. With their support, and all of our investors, we’re continuing to accelerate to serve as many older adults through technology as possible.”

Permutive raises $18.5M to help publishers target ads in a new privacy landscape

Permutive is announcing that it has raised $18.5 million in Series B funding, as the London-based startup works to help online publishers make money in a changing privacy landscape.

CEO Joe Root, who co-founded the company with CTO Tim Spratt, noted that publishers are facing increasing regulation while web browsers are phasing out support for third-party cookies — all good news for privacy advocates, but with a real downside for publisher ad revenue (blocking cookies causes an average 52% decline in ad revenue, according to a Google study last year).

Permutive tries to address this issues by allowing publishers to utilize their own first-party data more effectively.  Root estimated that without cookies, web visitors break down to 10% who are logged in and authenticated, while 90% are anonymous, and he said, “We use the insight and understanding from that 10% to make predictions about that 90%.”

So from a single anonymous pageview, Permutive can collect 20 or 30 data points about visitor behavior, which it then uses to try to project who that visitor might be and what they might be interested in. Root also noted that the company’s technology relies on edge computing, allowing it to process data more quickly, which is crucial for publishers who may only have a few seconds in which to show a visitor an ad.

If you’re wondering whether this approach has any privacy or regulatory implications of its own, Root suggested Permutive spends “a lot of time making sure we are ideologically aligned with [European privacy regulation] GDPR and ideologically aligned with the browsers.”

Joe Root - Permutive

Joe Root – Permutive

For one thing, “We don’t believe data should be portable across applications,” which is why Permutive is focused on helping publishers use their own data. For another, Root said Permutive is committed to “the destruction of identity in the adtech ecosystem.”

“Using data isn’t a problem — it’s when you attach data to an identity,” he added. So without identity, “Instead of saying, ‘Here is an ad for Anthony, look up everything you know from Anthony,’ we say, ‘Here is an ad for a user interested in tech media.’ One model leaks data and the other doesn’t.”

Root also suggested that these shifts will allow ad dollars to move back to the premium publishers who have more engagement with and data from their readers — publishers who he argued have “up until now funded the long tail” with their cookie-based data.

This approach is reflected in the publishers Permutive already works with, including BuzzFeed, Penske, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Business Insider, The Daily Telegraph, The Economist, Bell Media, News UK and MailOnline.

Founded in 2014, Permutive previously raised $11.5 million, according to Crunchbase. The Series B was led by Octopus Ventures with participation from EQT Ventures and previous investors.

“Today, Permutive is the UK category leader in its field and is beating billion-dollar global businesses on a consistent basis in trial processes,” said Will Gibbs of Octopus Ventures in a statement. “The team has hired many incredible people and is now ready to replicate the success seen in the U.K. in the U.S. Given the evolving regulatory and customer priorities, Permutive’s technology could be genuinely pioneering in its field.”

The startup is also announcing that it has hired Aly Nurmohamed (former global managing director for publisher partners at Criteo) as its general manager for publishing and Steve Francolla (former head of global publisher strategy at LiveRamp) as head of partnerships.

Minted.com’s Mariam Naficy will join us at TechCrunch Early Stage

At Early Stage, the first event of its kind from TechCrunch, entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest minds in the tech world across categories like fundraising, scaling, operations and marketing. Alongside these VCs, lawyers, growth marketers, operators and recruiters, we’ll also be hearing directly from entrepreneurs who have charted their own course.

One such entrepreneur is Mariam Naficy, founder and CEO of Minted. Naficy is an early trailblazer of the ecommerce and crowdsourcing spaces, and a serial entrepreneur to boot.

Minted started as a marketplace for unique paper stationary, all the way back in 2007. The vision was to build out a platform that crowdsourced incredible, unique design into a single marketplace, elevating beautiful products and amplifying independent designers. Today, Minted sells wall art, stationary and home goods, and also sources design for other retailers and brands.

Independent designers on the platform hail from all 50 states and more than 100 countries, and their products have made their way to more than 75 million homes worldwide. The company has raised nearly $300 million from investors Norwest Venture Partners, Benchmark, TCV, and Ridge Ventures.

At Early Stage, we’ll talk to Naficy about how she’s grown Minted over the years. From securing funding to using that funding, from scaling the community to scaling the team, everything is on the table.

Marketplaces are, historically speaking, incredibly hard to build, but Naficy is an expert on the subject. We’ll talk specifically about how to maintain that perfect balance between customer and creator all while growing at a rapid clip.

TC Early Stage (July 21 and 22) has so much to offer. The show will bring together 50+ experts across startup core competencies, such as fundraising, operations, and marketing. Cyan Bannister is set to explain how to get an investor to say yes to your startup. Asher Abramson will be sharing how to create growth assets for paid channels, lawyers James Alonso and Adam Zagaris will share how to draw up your first contracts, and Priti Choksi is hosting a session on how to get a company acquired rather than selling.

The two-day show features more than 50 sessions, but don’t worry; attendees will get access to the videos on demand for all of them. What’s more, most of the speakers, who happen to be investors, are participating in TechCrunch’s CrunchMatch, our platform that connects founders to investors based on shared interests. 

Here’s the fine print. Each of the 50+ breakout sessions is limited to around 100 attendees. We expect a lot more attendees, of course, so signups for each session are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Buy your ticket today, and you can sign up for the breakouts we are announcing today, as well as those already published. Pass holders will also receive 24-hour advance notice before we announce the next batch. (And yes, you can “drop” a breakout session in favor of a new one, in the event there is a schedule conflict.)

Get your TC Early Stage pass today and jump into the inside track on the sessions we announced so far, as well as the ones to be published in the coming weeks.

Possible sponsor? Hit us up right here.

Intel to invest $253.5 million in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms

Intel said on Friday it will invest $253.5 million in Jio Platforms, joining a roster of high-profile investors including Facebook and Silver Lake that have backed India’s top telecom operator in recent months.

The chipmaker’s investment arm said it is acquiring a 0.39% stake in Jio Platforms, giving the Indian firm a valuation of $65 billion. Intel Capital is the 12th investor to buy a stake in Jio Platforms, which has raised more than $15.5 billion by selling a 25% stake since April this year.

“Jio Platforms’ focus on applying its impressive engineering capabilities to bring the power of low-cost digital services to India aligns with Intel’s purpose of delivering breakthrough technology that enriches lives. We believe digital access and data can transform business and society for the better. Through this investment, we are excited to help fuel digital transformation in India, where Intel maintains an important presence,” said Wendell Brooks, Intel Capital President, in a statement.

More to follow…