Amazon tops 1 million Prime subscribers in India; reports record seller participation in Prime Day

Amazon has amassed at least 1 million subscribers for its Prime loyalty program in India, the e-commerce giant revealed today in a long rundown of how its platform fared during last week’s Prime Day in the world’s second largest internet market.

More than a million Prime subscribers in India shopped from small businesses in the two weeks leading up to the 48-hour Prime Day event last week, the company said in a blog post. Factoring in the ongoing global pandemic, Amazon last month chose India as the first market for Prime Day this year.

This is the first time Amazon has even vaguely disclosed how many of its users in India have signed up for the Prime subscription that costs $13.30 a year in the country (compared to $119 in the U.S.) and bundles Prime Video and Prime Music services. Amazon launched Prime in India four years ago. Globally, Amazon has more than 150 million Prime subscribers.

More than 91,000 small businesses (sellers) in India — a record for the company — participated in the local Prime Day, and sold to customers living in 5,900 ZIP codes (covering more than 97% of the country). Over 4,000 of these businesses clocked sales of more than $13,350 (slightly below 4,500 businesses during last year’s Prime Day), and overall 31,000 sellers reported the two-day period last week as their best selling on the platform.

Chinese firms Xiaomi and OnePlus continued to command dominance in the smartphone category, one of the top three selling categories on Amazon, during Prime Day, and also attracted customers to their accessories, laptops and television sets, Amazon disclosed. The reception stands in contrast with the all-time high anti-China sentiments swirling across India in recent months.

Amit Agarwal, SVP and Country Manager of Amazon India, said in a televised interview that last week’s Prime Day also illustrated an “increasing trend of local Indian sellers use Amazon as a starting point to launch products and reach customers globally” but he declined to share any figures.

“This Prime Day was dedicated to our small business (SMB) partners, who have been increasingly looking to Amazon to keep their businesses running. We are humbled that we were able to help as this was our biggest Prime Day ever for small businesses,” he said in a statement.

Prime Day is one of the biggest sales events for Amazon globally. In India, the e-commerce giant has historically sold more goods during sales events scheduled around the festival of Diwali, which is when local residents peak their spendings.

But the participation of 91,000 sellers in last week’s Prime Day is the highest Amazon has ever witnessed during any sales period in India. During the sale around Diwali last year, for instance, the company had reported the participation of 65,000 sellers.

Amazon, which competes with Walmart’s Flipkart in India, has visibly rushed to expand its base of sellers in the country in recent quarters. Earlier this year, Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos said the company would invest $1 billion in India to help digitize local small businesses and increase their cumulative exports on Amazon to $10 billion by 2025.

The company revealed today that it has amassed 650,000 sellers in India, up from 500,000 it disclosed in January this year.

Amazon has also been focusing on tie-ups with neighborhood stores across the country, leveraging their vast reach to drive more people to shop online. The company said over a thousand such shops from more than 100 cities made their debut on Prime Day last week.

Amazon also claimed that during Prime Day, the number of requests people made to Alexa exceeded one million. The company also shared a wide-range of other stats such as a claim that twice as many customers signed up for a Prime membership during last week’s Prime Day compared to last year’s. But without any concrete figures, these numbers are bereft of meaning.

The rules of VC are being broken

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

As ever I was joined by TechCrunch managing editor Danny Crichton and our early-stage venture capital reporter Natasha Mascarenhas. We had Chris on the dials and a pile of news to get through, so we were pretty hype heading into the show.

But before we could truly get started we had to discuss Cincinnati, and TikTok. Pleasantries and extortion out of the way, we got busy:

It was another fun week! As always we appreciate you sticking with and supporting the show!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Netflix’s latest effort to make inroads in India: Support for Hindi

Only about 10% of India’s 1.3 billion people know English. Yet, scores of firms operating in the country offer their services only in English. Netflix, one such company, said on Friday it’s aiming to break through the language barrier.

The American on-demand video streaming giant today rolled out support for Hindi, a language spoken by nearly half a billion people in India, across its platform. From the sign up page to search rows, to collections, synopsis and payment, Hindi language is now baked in across the platform. Subscribers can choose Hindi language from ‘Manage Profiles’ section on the welcome screen.

“Delivering a great Netflix experience is as important to us as creating great content. We believe the new user interface will make Netflix even more accessible and better suit members who prefer Hindi,” said Monika Shergill, VP-Content at Netflix India, in a statement.

Netflix’s global competitors, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ Hotstar also support Hindi language, though the latter has deployed Hindi in limited capacity (not for a movie or show’s synopsis, for instance).

The focus on Hindi illustrates the level of traction Netflix believes it has received in India. Most international firms tend to localize their services in India after they have fully tapped the population in urban cities across the country where English is a common language.

Facebook and Google — two companies that have each amassed over 350 million users in India — have long supported Hindi and several other local Indian languages across their services. Amazon added support for Hindi on its app in 2018, and rolled out support for the language in Alexa last year. In June, the company said sellers could now sign up to its platform and manage their accounts in Hindi language.

Flipkart introduced support for Hindi on its platform last year, and added three more local languages in June this year.

Support for Hindi is the latest effort from Netflix, which competes with more than three dozen on-demand video streaming services in India, to attract subscribers in the country. In the past one year, the company has also explored ways to make its platform affordable to more users in India, where an average person earns about $2,000 a year.

Last year, it launched a mobile-only plan in India that costs less than $3 a month and is currently testing at least one more affordable subscription tier in the country. At an event in India in early 2018, Netflix co-founder and co-chief executive Reed Hastings said — perhaps jokingly (can’t tell) — that India will eventually bring 100 million subscribers to his platform.

The company’s moves since then suggest that Netflix believes it. Last year, Netflix said it had earmarked $420 million for producing and licensing content in India by the end of 2020. Last month, the streaming service announced 17 original shows and movies that it plans to release over the next few months.

Like more than two dozen languages — including Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese — Hindi support will be available to subscribers worldwide.

Google to roll out its digital learning platform to 23 million students and teachers in India’s Maharashtra state

Google has partnered with one of the largest states in India to provide its digital classroom services to tens of millions of students and teachers, the search giant said today, as it makes a further education push in the world’s second largest internet market.

The company, which recently announced plans to invest $10 billion in India, said it had partnered with the government of the western state of Maharashtra that will see 23 million students and teachers access Google’s education offering at no charge.

Thursday’s announcement follows a recent survey by the Maharashtra government in which it had sought teachers’ interest in digital classroom alternatives. More than 150,000 teachers signed up for the program in less than 48 hours, Google said.

Maharashtra is the worst hit Indian state by COVID-19, with more than 460,000 confirmed cases. The state, like others in India, complied with New Delhi’s lockdown order in late March that prompted schools and other public places to close across the nation.

“All of us had questions regarding the future of education. We have come a step closer to answering these questions due to the pandemic,” said Uddhav Thackeray, chief minister of Maharashtra, in a statement.

Varsha Gaikwad, the education minister of Maharashtra, said the partnership with Google will help her department roll out tech solutions to students in about 190,000 schools.

“Our goal is to make Maharashtra the most progressive state in education by making effective use of online resources, platforms, bandwidth and technology, using the power of the internet to reach out to the masses and bridge the gap in education,” she said.

The pandemic, which has brought several sectors to their knees in the country, has accelerated the growth of startups that operate digital learning platforms in the country. Byju’s, Facebook -backed Unacademy, Vedantu and Toppr among other startups have amassed tens of millions of new students since March this year.

Google is providing students and teachers with a range of services, including G Suite for Education, Google Forms for conducting quizzes and tests, access to Google Meet video conferencing services and Google Classroom, which enables educators to create, review and organize assignments, as well as communicate directly with students.

The company said it has also made Teach from Anywhere, a hub for educators, in Marathi, a very popular language in the state of Maharashtra.

“Our teachers and schools have the huge responsibility in shaping the future of our new generation, and we continue to be honored to play a role in offering digital tools that can enable more teachers to help even more students stay firmly on their journey of learning, during these times and beyond,” wrote Sanjay Gupta, country head and vice president of Google India, in a blog post.

The company has rushed to work with educators in India in recent months. Last month, Google announced that it had partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education, a government body that oversees education in private and public schools in India, to provide its education offerings to more than 1 million teachers across 22,000 schools in India.

It also unveiled a grant of $1 million to Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF), a foundation in India that works with partners to provide underprivileged children with education opportunities from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm.

Google’s global rival, Facebook, also partnered with CBSE last month to launch a certified curriculum on digital safety and online well-being, and augmented reality for students and educators in the country.

YC-backed Statiq wants to bootstrap India’s EV charging network

Electric vehicles (EVs) are spreading throughout the world. While Tesla has drawn the most attention in the United States with its luxurious and cutting-edge cars, EVs are becoming a mainstay in markets far away from the environs of California.

Take India for instance. In the local mobility market, two- and three-wheel vehicles are starting to emerge as a popular option for a rapidly expanding middle class looking for more affordable options. EV versions are popular thanks to their reduced maintenance costs and higher reliability compared to gasoline alternatives.

Two-wheeled electric scooters are a fast-growing segment of India’s mobility market.

There’s just one problem, and it’s the same one faced by every country which has attempted to convert from gasoline to electric: how do you build out the charging station network to make these vehicles usable outside a small range from their garage?

It’s the classic chicken-and-egg problem. You need EVs in order to make money on charging stations, but you can’t afford to build charging stations until EVs are popular. Some startups have attempted to build out these networks themselves first. Perhaps the most famous example was Better Place, an Israeli startup that raised $800 million in venture capital before dying from negative cash flow back in 2013. Tesla has attempted to solve the problem by being both the chicken and egg by creating a network of Superchargers.

That’s what makes Statiq so interesting. The company, based in the New Delhi suburb of Gurugram, is bootstrapping an EV charging network using a multi-revenue model that it hopes will allow it to avoid the financial challenges that other charging networks have faced. It’s in the current Y Combinator batch and will be presenting at Demo Day later this month.

Akshit Bansal and Raghav Arora, the company’s co-founders, worked together previously as consultants and built a company for buying photos online, eventually reaching 50,000 monthly actives. They decided to make a pivot — a hard pivot really — into EVs and specifically charging equipment.

Statiq founders Raghav Arora and Akshit Bansal. Photos via Statiq

“We felt the need to do something about the climate because we were living in Delhi and Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and India is home to a lot of the polluted cities in the world. So we wanted to do something about it,” Bansal said. As they researched the causes of pollution, they learned that automobile exhaust represented a large part of the problem locally. They looked at alternatives, but EV charging stations remain basically non-existent across the country.

Thus, they founded Statiq in October 2019 and officially launched this past May. They have installed more than 150 charging stations in Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai and the surrounding environs.

Let’s get to the economics though, since that to me is the most fascinating part of their story. Statiq as I noted has a multi-revenue model. First, end users buy a subscription from Statiq to use the network, and then users pay a fee per charging session. That session fee is split between Statiq and the property owner, giving landlords who install the stations an incremental revenue boost.

A Statiq charging station. Photo via Statiq

When it comes to installation, Statiq has a couple of tricks up its sleeves. First, the company’s charging equipment — according to Bansal — costs roughly a third of the equivalent cost of U.S. equipment. That makes the base technology cheaper to acquire. From there, the company negotiates installations with landlords where the landlords will pay the fixed costs of installation in exchange for that continuing session charge fee.

On top of all that, the charging stations have advertising on them, offering another income stream particularly in high-visibility locations like shopping malls which are critical for a successful EV charging network.

In short, Statiq hasn’t had to outlay capital in order to put in place their charging equipment — and they were able to bootstrap before applying to YC earlier this year. Bansal said the company had dozens of charging stations and thousands of paid sessions on its platform before joining their YC batch, and “we are now growing 20% week-over-week.”

What’s next? It’s all about deliberate scaling. The EV market is turning on in India, and Statiq wants to be where those cars are. Bansal and his co-founder are hoping to ride the wave, continuing to build out critical infrastructure along the way. India’s government will likely continue to help: its approved billions of dollars in incentives for EVs and for charging stations, tipping the economics even further in the direction of a clean car future.

Apple’s partners and Samsung apply for India’s $6.6 billion local smartphone production program

South Korean giant Samsung, Apple’s contract manufacturing partners Foxconn, Wistron and Pegatron, and Indian smartphone vendors Micromax and Lava among others have applied for India’s $6.6 billion incentive program aimed at boosting the local smartphone manufacturing, New Delhi said on Saturday.

The scheme, called Production-Linked Incentive Scheme, will offer a range of incentives to companies including a 6% financial incentive on additional sales of goods produced locally over five years, with 2019-2020 set as the base year, India’s IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a press conference.

22 companies have applied for the incentive program — that also includes manufacturing of electronics components — and have agreed to export 60% of their locally produced units outside of India, said Prasad. He said the companies estimate they will produce smartphones and components worth $153 billion during the five-year duration.

The Production-Linked Incentive Scheme is aimed at turning India into a global hub of high-quality manufacturing of smartphones and support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push to make the country self-reliant, said Prasad.

As part of their applications, the companies have also agreed to offer direct and indirect employment to roughly 1.2 million Indians, the Indian minister said.

The interest of Samsung and Apple, two companies that account for more than 50% of the global smartphone sales revenue, in India is a testament of the opportunities they see in the world’s second largest internet market, said Prasad. “Apple and Samsung, India welcomes you with attractive policies. Now expand your presence in the country,” he said.

Missing from the list of companies that the Indian minister revealed today are Chinese smartphone makers Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Realme that have not applied for the incentive program.

The Indian government did not prevent companies from any country from participating to the program, Prasad insisted in a call with reporters Saturday noon. Chinese smartphone vendors command roughly 80% of the Indian handset market, according to research firm Canalys.

“We are optimistic and looking forward to building a strong ecosystem across the value chain and integrating with the global value chains, thereby strengthening electronics manufacturing ecosystem in the country,” he said. The deadline for applying to participate in India’s program, which began in April, ended on Friday this week.

The participation of Wistron, Foxconn, and Pegatron is also indicative of Apple’s future plans to produce locally in India. Apple’s contract manufacturing partner, Taiwan-based Wistron, first began assembling older iPhone models in 2017. Last month, Foxconn kickstarted assembly of a small batch of iPhone 11 units. This was the first time any Apple supplier assembled a current-generation iPhone model in the country.

Toppr raises $46 million to scale its online learning platform in India

Toppr, one of the largest online learning startups in India, has secured $46 million in a new financing round as it looks to scale its platform including a new product.

Dubai-headquartered investment firm Foundation Holdings led the Mumbai-based seven-year-old startup’s Series D round. Kaizen Private Equity, an existing investor, also participated in the new round, which brings Toppr’s to-date raise to over $92 million.

Toppr operates four products and services that are aimed at K-12 students. Learning app, Toppr’s marquee service, offers students live classes and sessions to clear doubts, pre-recorded lessons and tests.

Toppr’s catalog covers 17 subjects and prepares students for five dozen competitive exams, explained Toppr founder and chief executive Zishaan Hayath in an interview with TechCrunch.

A portion of Toppr’s library is available to students at no charge on Learning app, but full access requires a membership. The subscription starts at 1,000 Indian rupee ($13.35) and goes as high as 3,000 Indian rupee ($40).

The startup launched Codr, a product aimed at helping all school-age children learn computer programming, last month. A Codr session costs about $9.35. Toppr also maintains a free problem solving app that enables a student to take a picture of a question and get its solution instantly, explained Hayath.

In background, the app uses character recognition and machine learning to sift through a large bank of problems Toppr has amassed over the years to determine its solution.

Toppr’s Learning app has amassed over 13 million users, more than 150,000 of whom are paying subscribers, he said. In recent months, the startup has also worked on a new product called School OS, which enables a school to digitize their learning experience. Through School OS, a teacher can assign and collect homework digitally, and students can attend live classes.

Zishaan Hayath, the founder and chief executive of Toppr, a Mumbai-headquartered edtech startup (Photo: Toppr)

“They can also attend classes from previous years, or of grades ahead of them. Our schooling system is built in a way that keeps you locked in the current year’s curriculum. On digital, one of the benefits is that you don’t have to follow such rules. So for instance, if a student in tenth grade needs to brush up some concept from grade nine, they can do so at any moment,” said Hayath.

More than 40 schools have deployed School OS for their 60,000 students, he said. The startup plans to have 300,000 students enrolled to School OS in the next few months.

“Toppr has emerged as the highest traffic destination for K-12 learning and hosts over 1 million sessions every day. Toppr’s community of 50,000+ educators from across the country has contributed to over 35 lakh learning pieces, including questions, solutions, concepts, games and videos for the students. Our investment in Toppr also reflects our commitment to empowering great teachers via the new School OS. The new School OS already has 55,000+ learners on it,” said Aakash Sachdev, Managing Director of Foundation Holdings, in a statement.

Sachdev has joined Toppr’s board as part of the new financing round. Foundation Holdings said it will work with Toppr to make the startup “IPO ready” in the coming years and publicly list on Nasdaq or any other international stock exchange.

Hayath said the startup will continue to focus on scaling its various products and services, and also invest a little on marketing — an aspect he said Toppr has never spent any penny on.

Another relatively new area for Toppr is exploring merger and acquisition deals. Hayath said the startup has so far resisted the idea of acquiring a team or firm to grow inorganically, but is open to scouting deals for a right fit.

Toppr’s fundraising announcement today comes as edtech startups in India witness a significant surge in their userbases at a time when firms in other industries are finding it difficult to steer through the coronavirus pandemic.

Byju’s, India’s most valuable edtech startup, raised about $23 million from Mary Meeker’s Bond last month. Unacademy, another learning platform in India, acquired a smaller firm PrepLadder for about $50 million earlier this month. And two weeks ago, Vedantu said it had secured $100 million in a fresh financing round.

Hevo draws in $8 million Series A for its no-code data pipeline service

Hevo founders Manish Jethani and Sourabh Agarwal

According to data pipeline startup Hevo, many small- to medium-sized companies juggle more than 40 different applications to manage sales, marketing, finance, customer support and other operations. All of these applications are important sources of data that can be analyzed to improve a company’s performance. That data often remains separate, however, making it difficult for different teams to collaborate.

Hevo enables its clients’ employees to integrate data from more than 150 different sources, including enterprise software from Salesforce and Oracle, even if they don’t have any technical experience. The company announced today that it has raised an $8 million Series A round led by Singapore-based venture capital firm Qualgro and Lachy Groom, a former executive at payments company Stripe.

The round, which brings Hevo’s total raised so far to $12 million, also included participation from returning investors Chiratae Ventures and Sequoia Capital India’s early-stage startup program Surge. The company was first covered by TechCrunch when it raised seed funding in 2017.

Hevo’s Series A will be used to increase the number of integrations available on its platform, and hire sales and marketing teams in more countries, including the United States and Singapore. The company currently has clients in 16 markets, including the U.S., India, France, Australia and Hong Kong, and counts payments company Marqeta among its customers.

In a statement, Puneet Bysani, tech lead manager at Marqeta, said, “Hevo saved us many engineering hours, and our data teams could focus on creating meaningful KPIs that add value to Marqeta’s business. With Hevo’s pre-built connectors, we were able to get data from many sources into Redshift and Snowflake very quickly.”

Based in Bangalore and San Francisco, Hevo was founded in 2017 by chief executive officer Manish Jethani and chief technology officer Sourabh Agarwal. The two previously launched SpoonJoy, a food delivery startup that was acquired by Grofers, one of India’s largest online grocery delivery services, in 2015. Jethani and Agarwal spent a year working at Grofers before leaving to start Hevo.

Hevo originated in the challenges Jethani and Agarwal faced while developing tech for SpoonJoy’s order and delivery system.

“All of our team members would come to us and say, ‘hey, we want to look at these metrics,’ or we would ask our teams questions if something wasn’t working. Oftentimes, they would not have the data available to answer those questions,” Jethani told TechCrunch.

Then at Grofers, Jethani and Agarwal realized that even large companies face the same challenges. They decided to work on a solution to allow companies to quickly integrate data sources.

For example, a marketing team at a e-commerce company might have data about its advertising on social media platforms, and how much traffic campaigns bring to their website or app. But they might not have access to data about how many of those visitors actually make purchases, or if they become repeat customers. By building a data pipeline with Hevo, they can bring all that information together.

Hevo is designed to serve all sectors, including e-commerce, healthcare and finance. In order to use it, companies sign up for Hevo’s services on its website and employees enter their credentials for software supported by the platform. Then Hevo automatically extracts and organizes the data from those sources and prepares it for cloud-based data warehouses, such as Amazon Redshift and Snowflake. A user dashboard allows companies to customize integrations or hide sensitive data.

Hevo is among a roster of “no code, low code” startups that have recently raised venture capital funding for building tools that enable non-developers to add features to their existing software. The founders say its most direct competitor is Fivetran, an Oakland, California-based company that also builds pipelines to move data to warehouses and prepare it for analysis.

Jethani said Hevo differentiates by “optimizing our product for non-technical users.”

“The number of companies who need to use data is very high and there is not enough talent available in the market. Even if it is available, it is very competitive and expensive to hire that engineering talent because big companies like Google and Amazon are also competing for the same talent,” he added. “So we felt that there has to be some democratization of who can use this technology.”

Hevo also focuses on integrating data in real-time, which is especially important for companies that provide on-demand deliveries or services. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jethani says e-commerce clients have used Hevo to manage an influx in orders as people under stay-at-home orders purchase more items online. Companies are also relying on Hevo to help organize and manage data as their employees continue to work remotely.

In a statement about the funding, Qualgro managing partner Heang Chhor said, “Hevo provides a truly innovative solution for extracting and transforming data across multiple data sources–in real time with full automation. This helps enterprises to fully capture the benefit of data flowing though the many databases and software they currently use. Hevo’s founders are the type of globally-minded entrepreneurs that we like to support.”

India’s Flipkart gives hyperlocal delivery service another try

Flipkart on Tuesday launched a hyperlocal service in suburbs of Bangalore, four years after the e-commerce group abruptly concluded its previous foray into this category.

The e-commerce group, owned by Walmart, said Flipkart Quick leverages the company’s supply chain infrastructure and a new location mapping technology framework to deliver more than 2,000 products across grocery, perishables, smartphones, electronics accessories, and stationary items within 90 minutes to customers.

When a customer places an order, the items are sourced from local neighborhood stores, warehouses and retail chains. Flipkart Quick — initially operational in Whitefield, Panathur, HSR Layout, BTM Layout, Banashankari, RK Puram and Indiranagar among other suburbs of Bangalore — allows customers to book a convenient two-hour slot between 6am to midnight for delivery.

The company, which is working with a range of partnered firms, is levying a delivery charge starting 29 Indian rupees (39 cents) on servicing these orders, it said.

The launch of Quick stands to provide Flipkart an opportunity to reach a new set of users, especially those who otherwise see no reason to buy online, offer more timely deliveries and also become a headache for some existing startups such as Dunzo that already operate in a similar space. It also marks Flipkart’s foray into servicing fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and milk orders.

Dunzo, which is backed by Google, operates in Bangalore and allows customers to order any item from nearby stores. One of the experiments it has done in recent quarters is inking deals with smartphone vendors such as Xiaomi to deliver new handsets to customers in half an hour.

If that becomes a norm in the country, it could pose serious challenge to both Flipkart and Amazon India. Both the firms, which take at least a day to deliver handsets to customers, count smartphone sales as one of their core businesses.

“This is a great model for India as households of all sizes are already used to their neighbourhood Kirana stores. In fact, Indian families are so comfortable with what we call the ‘hyperlocal context’, that there is a tendency to develop deep, familial ties with vendors, shopkeepers and service providers – now with the convenience of e-commerce,” said Sandeep Karwa, a VP at Flipkart, in a statement.

“While we start with our dark store (no-walkin) model, wherein we enable sellers to store inventory close to the consumer; this model has the potential of encouraging local entrepreneurship and enabling new business strategies and partnerships. Today, with Flipkart Quick – our Hyperlocal capability, we have the potential to bring together the whole network of neighbourhood Kirana stores onto our platform with just a click,” he added.

This isn’t the first time Flipkart has explored the hyperlocal delivery category. In late 2015, Flipkart launched Nearby to deliver perishables, grocery, wellbeing, and household items within 60 minutes. But the company abruptly discontinued Nearby reportedly because of poor demand and unsustainable model.

Flipkart did not reference Nearby today, but talked about the efforts it has made to build Quick and the opportunities it sees in the market. Flipkart said the company plans to expand Quick hyperlocal delivery service outside of Bangalore in a few months.

For Quick, Flipkart said it is also moving away from the traditional model of using zip code system to identify delivery location and instead using a latitude and longitude approach. This model enables the company to “not only narrow down the location” but also be “more precise” and deliver more efficiently.

Both Flipkart, which this month secured an additional $1.2 billion, and Amazon India have in recent months rushed to leverage on the vast presence of mom and pop stores across the country.

Flipkart said last week it was acquiring a 100% stake in Walmart’s India business, which had limited standalone presence in the country and operated Best Price, a cash-and-carry business that runs 28 warehouse-club-style stores across the country and has amassed more than 1.5 million members. The company plans to launch its wholesale business in the country next month.

These neighborhood stores dot tens of thousands of cities, towns and villages in India. They have survived — and thrived — despite retail giants’ billions of investment in the country. The space has also attracted the attention of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

JioMart, a new e-commerce venture between the nation’s largest retail chain (Reliance Retail) and telecom network (Reliance Jio Platforms), began limited operations this April and has since expanded to more than 200 cities and towns across India. The new venture plans to work closely with mom and pop stores.

Facebook, which invested $5.7 billion in Reliance Jio Platforms earlier this year, said the two companies will explore ways to serve the nation’s 60 million small and medium-sized businesses.

Google is building a new private subsea cable between Europe and the U.S.

Google today announced its plans to build a new subsea cable with landing points in New York in the U.S. and Bude, UK and Bilbao, Spain in Europe. The new cable, named after the pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper, will join Google’s various other private subsea cables like Curie between the U.S. and South America, Dunant between the U.S. and France, and Equiano between Europe and Africa.

The new cable is scheduled to go online in 2022 and will be built by SubCom, which Google also contracted for work on its Dunant and Curie cables.

Image Credits: Google

Google plans to launch a new Google Cloud region in Madrid in the near future, so it’s maybe no surprise that it is also looking at how it can best connect the region to its global network. The new cable marks Google’s first cable to Spain and its first private subsea cable route to the UK.

The cable will feature 16 fiber pairs, which is a pretty standard number, but as the Google team stresses, it will be the first to use a new switching architecture the company developed in cooperation with SubCom. This new system is meant to provide increased reliability and to enable the company to better move traffic around outages.

Grace Hopper will be Google’s fourth wholly-owned cable. In addition to these private cables, the company is also a member of a number of consortiums that jointly operate cables around the world. In total, Google has now announced investments in 15 subsea cables, though it is also reportedly part of the upcoming Blue-Raman Cable that will run between India and Italy via Israel. The company has yet to confirm its participation in this project, though.