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Another gaming unicorn; GST for Swiggy and Zomato?

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The Economic Times
15th September, 2021 19:19 IST

Mobile Premier League is the 26th Indian startup unicorn of 2021—and the second homegrown gaming startup to cross a $1 billion valuation—after raising funding from Legatum Capital and others.

Also in this letter:

  • Food delivery firms could soon face GST
  • Ola restarts sale of electric scooter
  • Truecaller plans $116-million Stockholm IPO
Mobile Premier League valued at $2.3 billion after latest fundraise

Mobile Premier League cofounder Sai Srinivas

Mobile Premier League (MPL) is India’s latest startup unicorn after raising funds at a pre-money valuation of $2.3 billion. MPL will use the fresh capital to finance its global expansion, invest in its technology, and drive growth in the Indian market.

Investors: Legatum Capital led the round, which also involved Accrete Capital and Gaingels, and existing investors including Moore Strategic Ventures and RTP Global. The startup did not disclose the funding but sources said it had raised $150 million.

Times Internet, a part of the Times group, is an early investor in MPL.

Galloping: MPL last raised funding in February, when it picked up $95 million in Series D funding at a valuation of $945 million. That was more than double its valuation in September 2020, when it raised $90 million.

It is India’s second gaming unicorn after Dream11, which was valued at $1-$1.5 billion in April 2019 after a secondary share sale in the range of $60 million.

Nation of gamers: Global investors from Sequoia Capital to Tiger Global Management, which backs MPL rival Dream11, are betting on the opportunity that India’s 400 million gamers represent.

The country is one of the world’s largest markets for game downloads, clocking 840 million installs in June, according to data from Sensor Tower. And while China is cracking down on its gaming companies, their Indian counterparts are betting on a smoother ride.

MLP’s numbers: MPL, which connects game publishers with players, currently has about 80 million users, of which about 10 million spend money on it. Five million of its users are in Indonesia, while in the US, where it launched in July, MPL is targeting 300,000 users and more than $100 million in gross merchandise value by the end of the year. It also plans to expand to another six markets in three years.

The couch potato model: Gaming companies, along with streaming services and online retailers, have been the biggest beneficiaries of pandemic-induced lockdowns. Companies invested more in gaming in 2020 than in the previous five years combined, Girish Menon, head of media and entertainment at KPMG, told Bloomberg.
Orders through Swiggy, Zomato could soon attract GST


Food deliveries platforms may soon have to pay Good and Services Tax (GST) if the GST Council approves a suggestion by its fitment committee.

What’s happening? The committee, which suggests tax-rate changes, has recommended that ecommerce firms that offer restaurant services, such as Swiggy and Zomato, be classified as ecommerce operators and thus liable to pay GST on behalf of the restaurants they work with. The committee said cloud kitchens should also be included under restaurant services and charged 5% GST without input tax credit.

  • “It may be clarified by way of a circular that services by way of serving of food, door delivery and take away by cloud kitchens/central kitchens are covered under ‘restaurant service’, and attract 5% GST without input tax credit,” the panel recommended, adding, “This change may be given effect from January 1, 2022, so as to allow the [ecommerce operators] time to make changes to their software etc.”
Why? The committee said that while food delivery has increased during the pandemic, the government has not been getting proportional revenue by way of taxes.

Wider tax net: "This move will help the government bring smaller restaurants within the GST ambit and accordingly enhance GST collections. However, on the flip side, smaller restaurants below the threshold, which do not have to pay GST currently, will have GST as an additional cost on their services," said Abhishek Jain, tax partner at EY.

What’s next? The council could take up the committee's recommendations at its meeting on Friday.
After teething issues, Ola restarts electric scooter bookings on app


Ola Electric has restarted the sale of its electric scooters—S1 and S1 Pro—on the Ola app only as the website meant for bookings suffered teething troubles last week. It said deliveries would begin in October.


First-come, first-served: The Bengaluru-based company is prioritising buyers based on their dates of reservation. These customers are being notified about their purchase window by email, text messages and app notifications. They can buy the scooter anytime after the purchase window opens.

The app is also accepting fresh Ola electric scooter bookings at Rs 499.

Women-only factory: On Monday, the company said that its electric scooter plant, Ola Futurefactory, will be run entirely by women. The company is manufacturing electric scooters at a 500-acre site near Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu. The factory is expected to eventually have an annual capacity of 10 million vehicles.

Pricing: Ola's S1 and S1 Pro scooters are priced at Rs 99,999 and Rs 1,29,999 (ex-showroom including FAME II subsidy and excluding state subsidies), respectively. Exports will begin later this year.

Aggarwal said the company’s goal is to build a full lineup of electric vehicles, including three-wheelers and cars.

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Truecaller seeks to raise $116 million in Stockholm IPO


Truecaller, the Swedish caller identification service that counts India as its biggest market, plans to list on Nasdaq Stockholm.

The listing is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2021, depending on market conditions, the company said in a statement. It plans to use gross proceeds of about $116 million to grow its business in existing markets and enter new ones.

Carnegie, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Citigroup Global Markets are joint global coordinators on the planned offering, Bloomberg reported.

The company, which has 280 million monthly active users, reported sales of about $57 million in 2020, up from about $22 million in 2018, the report said.

Ownership structure: Nami Zarringhalam and Alan Mamedi, who cofounded Truecaller in 2009, intend to control a majority of the company's voting power through ownership of Class A shares.

Truecaller counts Sequoia, Atomico, OpenOcean and Kleiner Perkins among its investors, and more than 10% of the company is owned by its employees.
ETtech Done Deals

■ Anar, a business-to-business networking app, has raised $6.2 million in a seed funding round co-led by Elevation Capital and Accel India. The round also saw participation from First Cheque, Utsav Somani of AngelList India, Ranjeet Pratap Singh (Pratilipi cofounder and CEO), Farid Ahsan (ShareChat cofounder), Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal (Meesho cofounders) and Shashvat Nakrani (BharatPe cofounder).

■ Graphic design and collaboration platform Canva said that it is now valued at $40 billion after the company raised $200 million in a funding round led by investment management firm T. Rowe Price. The money will be used to expand Canva's team of more than 2,000 employees, which the company expects to double in the year ahead. T. Rowe Price was joined by Franklin Templeton, Sequoia Capital Global Equities and Bessemer Venture Partners among others in the funding round.

■ IT services major Infosys announced a strategic collaboration with SAP, a market leader in enterprise application software, to provide Business Process Transformation-as-a-Service to enterprises. Through this collaboration, Infosys will leverage business process intelligence (BPI) from SAP to identify opportunities and obstacles in the transformation journey and create a roadmap for clients.

Today's ETtech Top 5 newsletter was curated by Arun Padmanabhan in New Delhi and Zaheer Merchant in Mumbai.

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