Rapido set to close $50-mn round; WhatsApp threatens legal action against spammers

Rapido set to close $50-mn round; WhatsApp threatens legal action against spammers
12 Jun, 2019

Roppen Transportation Services Pvt. Ltd, which operates bike-taxi startup Rapido, is in the final stages of closing a $50 million (around Rs 350 crore) investment round led by private equity firm WestBridge Capital, The Economic Times reported. 

While WestBridge Capital is likely to invest $30 million on its own, Rapido’s existing investors are expected to contribute the rest in what would be the startup’s largest funding round till date. The round would value Rapido at $150-200 million, the report added.

In April this year, TechCircle had reported that Rapido was raising up to $11.19 million from a clutch of new and existing investors. New investor Nexus Venture Partners led the investment with an infusion of $6.53 million. 

As per TechCircle estimates, Rapido raised that round at a post-money valuation of around $56-58 million. This represented more than a four-fold jump from its last-known valuation of $13.18 million.

WhatsApp to take legal action against spammers

Instant messaging platform WhatsApp is threatening to take legal action against individuals and companies sending bulk messages in violation of its service terms.

Declaring that its products are not intended for bulk or automated messaging, the Facebook-owned company said it will start taking legal action from December 7 onwards against entities "engaged in or assisting others" for such activities.

  “In addition, beginning on December 7, 2019, WhatsApp will take legal action against those we determine are engaged in or assisting others in abuse that violates our Terms of Service, such as automated or bulk messaging, or non-personal use, even if that determination is based on information solely available to us off our platform," the company said in an online post.

Yatra locked in legal dispute with Air Travel Bureau

Nasdaq-listed travel portal Yatra Online, Inc. said arbitration proceedings have been initiated in connection with its pending acquisition of corporate travel services provider Air Travel Bureau Ltd (ATB).

The Delhi High Court appointed an arbitrator after Yatra sought interim relief on 30 May following a criminal complaint filed much earlier by ATB chairman Sunil Narain. 

The complaint was followed by a First Information Report (FIR), which the Delhi police registered last week, by Narain and a key ATB shareholder. 

The FIR accuses Yatra of cheating, falsification of accounts, criminal breach of trust and forgery of documents related to obligations under the share-purchase agreement of the 2017 acquisition deal, the Nasdaq-listed firm told the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week.  

Yatra called the allegations “entirely false and frivolous”.

The issue relates to a two-year-old deal where Yatra Online Pvt. Ltd, Yatra’s Indian arm, inked an agreement to acquire a majority stake (50.94%) in ATB  in the first phase for Rs 51 crore with the remaining holding to be picked up later.

This second leg of the deal is pending as the two sides have not yet agreed on the valuation for the final payment. This was to be completed in the April-June quarter of 2018 with the total deal value estimated to be between $22.5 million and $27.5 million.

Email queries to both Yatra and ATB did not get a response till the time of publishing this report.

OYO may raise $1 billion afresh

OYO is in discussions to raise around $1 billion afresh in a round of funding that would likely result in the homegrown hospitality unicorn’s valuation rising to $10 billion, The Economic Times reported.

A set of new investors and existing ones including SoftBank are likely to participate in this round. Gurugram-headquartered Oyo is scouting for a lead investor while there is significant interest from both financial and strategic investors, the report added.

SoftBank, which led a $1 billion-plus Series E round last year, holds a little over 46% stake in OYO, which has embarked on an aggressive expansion drive in China and Europe apart from launching new verticals on its home turf. 

Oravel Stays Pvt. Ltd, which operates OYO Hotels and Homes, recently claimed that it was the second-largest hotel group in China by number of rooms.