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Peter Thiel bets big on India; Unacademy reduced 60% cash burn


Rapido drives into the cab industry.

On Tuesday, the bike-and-auto-rickshaw aggregator launched Rapido Cabs, a SaaS-based zero-commission platform for drivers, which will work on a nominal subscription fee. Drivers will be required to pay Rs 500 upon reaching earnings of Rs 10,000.

Meanwhile, 71 show cause notices have been issued to online gaming companies for alleged GST evasion of over Rs 1.12 lakh crore during FY23 and FY24, said the Finance Ministry. The total evasion detected by central GST officers in the current fiscal (till October 2023) was Rs 1.51 lakh crore.

Elsewhere, equity investors became richer by Rs 2.4 lakh crore as domestic benchmark indices Sensex and Nifty scaled new peaks on Tuesday amid persistent foreign fund inflows. 

ICYMI: An interactive calendar for stargazing. 

Simply put in your location for the most accurate results.

In today’s newsletter, we will talk about 

  • Peter Thiel bets big on India
  • AI transforming video analytics
  • Unacademy reduced 60% cash burn

Here’s your trivia for today: What natural disaster inadvertently helped create the first computerised bulletin board system?


Peter Thiel bets big on India

Peter Thiel

Jack Selby wears many hats. He is a well-respected venture capitalist in Silicon Valley and also part of the “PayPal mafia”. But perhaps Selby’s most prominent role is that of managing director at Thiel Capital—the family office of tech visionary and former CEO of PayPal, Peter Thiel. 

In an exclusive interview, Selby speaks about lessons learnt from investing early on in China, why India presents one of the greatest growth stories of all time, and more.

Bullish cues:

  • “Even though we opted to bet on China ten years ago, I am just as bullish about India today. It has immense potential to grow, especially if the opportunities are realised to the fullest extent by the people present on the ground,” he says.
  • Making good use of local networks as well as raising adequate capital from the right people could be a differentiating factor for those wanting to build out of India.
  • “We’ll just have to give businesses their own time to make successful outcomes. Once that is achieved, there is a need to ensure the outcome gets recycled and retained within the boundaries of the country.”


AI transforming video analytics

Assert AI, Job Philip, Nitin Jain

Mumbai-based Assert AI offers SaaS solutions infused with AI for comprehensive video analytics across diverse business sectors, enterprises, and corporations. It aims to solve the main issue of bringing on-premise AI (Computer Vision) for businesses on scale. 

In simpler words, Assert AI makes “millions of cameras inside the industrial set-ups smart”.

Key takeaways:

  • Assert AI can generate immediate real-time alerts for various deviations, including intrusion detection, fire or smoke detection, violations related to personal protective equipment (PPE), theft incidents, and irregularities in material handling.  
  • Besides manufacturing and supply chain processes, its solutions can also be used in retail, healthcare, and traffic management.
  • Last November, the startup raised $2 million from Prashant Purker, former managing director and chief executive of ICICI Venture and agritech startup 


Unacademy reduced 60% cash burn


Unacademy has claimed to have reduced its cash burn by 60% and has a runway of over four years with its current cash reserves, according to a post by CEO and co-founder Gaurav Munjal. In a post on X, he highlighted that the edtech company achieved positive cash flow during the April-June quarter of the current fiscal year.

Unit economics:

  • The online business of the edtech company witnessed a 30% decline, while the EBITDA, a metric indicating core operational efficiency, exhibited an 87% improvement, Munjal said.
  • Unacademy-owned Graphy—a SaaS platform for creators and educators that helps in growing their online brand and business—grew by 30% and is very close to profitability.
  • Unacademy’s chief also noted that the learner count at its centres increased to 32,000 in 2023 from 6,000 in 2022.

News & updates

  • Charger row: Apple has told India its local production targets will be hit if it follows the EU and requires existing iPhones to have universal charging ports, a government document shows as the US tech giant lobbies for an exemption or delay. 
  • Gen AI perks: Banks using Gen AI tools could boost their earnings by as much as $340 billion annually through increased productivity. This would amount to a 9-15% increase in operating profits, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. Corporate and retail banks have the most to gain.
  • Fall down: Ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its outlook on China’s government credit ratings to negative from stable, expecting Beijing’s support and possible bailouts for distressed local governments and state-owned enterprises to diminish China’s fiscal, economic and institutional strength.

What natural disaster inadvertently helped create the first computerised bulletin board system?

Answer: A blizzard. The first bulletin board system (BBS) was developed by Ward Christensen during a snowstorm in Chicago and went online in February 1978. 

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