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Funding Roundup: Twitter plugs into ShareChat; internet deals boost funding to $347.5 mn

Funding Roundup: Twitter plugs into ShareChat; internet deals boost funding to $347.5 mn
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Homegrown social media platform ShareChat received its highest validation yet this week when Twitter, the San Francisco-based social networking giant, joined a consortium of investors to participate in the Bengaluru-based startup’s latest funding round. Aside of ShareChat, it was a fairly lucrative week for the overall consumer internet sector with startups across social commerce, property listings and used cars marketplaces drawing investor dollars.

Artificial intelligence (AI) also made a big splash with as many seven startups raising fresh capital, though the ticket sizes were relatively smaller than the consumer internet sector. The biggest deal involved conversational AI startup Uniphore, which raised a Series C round.

AI and machine learning (ML) as an underlying technologies are increasingly becoming ubiquitous across startups and sectors.

In terms of stages, deals at the Series A stage saw a bit of a slump at just three deals but the seven-odd investments at the angel and seed stages somewhat made up for the downturn.  

Overall, technology startups raised $347.5 million across 19 deals, a big improvement from the $158.32 million that was deployed across 17 deals last week.

Top funding deals

ShareChat: Native languages driven social media platform ShareChat raised $100 million in a growth funding round led by Twitter and TrustBridge Partners. Return backers in the round included Shunwei Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, SAIF Partners, India Quotient and Morningside Venture Capital. The latest round takes the total capital raised by the startup so far to $224 million.

Meesho: The social commerce platform raised a $125 million round in a growth funding round led by South African internet businesses conglomerate Naspers. The round also saw the participation of return backers including Facebook, SAIF Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Shunwei Capital and Venture Highway. Separately, former Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin joined the round as a new investor.

Parentof: Parentof Solutions raised a $1 million seed funding round from Zaikenn founder V Srinivasan. Zaikenn is an early stage investment firm. Srinivasan was also an investor in the startup’s angel round about two years ago. Parentof offers an AI-based parenting tool called MAI and an ERP tool called Pupilpod, focused on the education sector.

Lendingkart: The digital lender that targets small and medium businesses raised $3 million from existing investor Sistema Asia Fund, taking its total capital raised to $146 million. With the latest infusion, Sistema has so put $33 million to work in the startup.

Miko: Consumer robotics startup Miko raised $7.5 million in a Series A round led by Chiratae Ventures. Yournest Ventures and Bruno Rachelle Family Office.

Uniphore: Conversational AI startup Uniphore raised $51 million in a Series C funding round led by March Capital. Return backers in the round included Chiratae Ventures, Sistema Asia, Iron Pillar and the Patni Family Office among other investors. Uniphore also counts John Chambers’ J2C Ventures among its investors.

Orbo: Vinod Dham, father of Intel’s Pentium processor, joined a consortium of investors to invest $1.6 million in Orbo, a startup that is using AI to deliver visual enhancement solutions for images on multiple devices such as smartphones and laptops. The round was led by YourNest Ventures and Venture Catalysts.

Dunzo: Hyperlocal logistics platform Dunzo raised $2 million from venture lender Alteria Capital. Part of the round consisted of equity capital. By TechCircle’s estimates, the round valued Dunzo, which counts search giant Google among its investors, at about $65 mn.

Rupeek: Bertelsmann India Investments led a $30 million funding round in the gold loans marketplace. The investment stage was not specified. Return backers in the round included Accel and Sequoia Capital India.

Doxper: Doxper is an AI and ML powered data capture platform that helps doctors maintain patients’ medical records. The startup picked up $4 million in what it said is the first close of its Series A round from Alkemi Venture Partners. Rainforest Venture Network, existing investor GrowX Ventures and a group of angels, whose identities were not disclosed, participated in the round.

Ecobillz: 92Angels, an angel investors network backed by IIM Ahmedabad alumni from the 1992 batch, invested an undisclosed sum Ecobillz, a startup that uses AI/ML to digitise and aggregate information from documents. The startup targets the hospitality and retail sector for its solutions. Existing investor Ghosal Ventures also participated in the round.

Cars24: Indian cricketer MS Dhoni picked up an undisclosed stake in used cars marketplace Cars24 as Services as part of the company’s Series D round. The company did not disclose the amount invested. Cars24 has been in the market for a $100 mn-plus round for more than two months, according to multiple media reports.

M&A

Pikup.ai: ANI Technologies, the Bengaluru based company that owns ride hailing platform Ola, acqui-hired Pikup.ai, a software startup that uses technologies such as AI, computer vision and sensors to deliver solutions to businesses. Earlier this year, Ola set up an advanced technology center in San Francisco to develop next generation technologies for mobility. Ola Electric, its electric mobility arm, also just raised $250 million from existing investor SoftBank.

White Tiger: UClean, which bills itself as a technology enabled laundromat chain, acquired peer White Tiger for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition adds 20 new outlets in the Delhi-NCR market to UClean’s existing network of 130 outlets across 35 cities.

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