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Amazon To Double Down On Indian Investments

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AMAZON TO DOUBLE DOWN ON INDIAN INVESTMENTS,Startup Stories,Amazon Latest News,Amazon Reiterates Plans to Double Down on India Operations,Amazon to double investments in India scale up digital payments,Amazon to double investment in India, add UPI to Amazon Payments,Amazon India to double storage


Ecommerce giant Amazon plans to double down on its investments in India, according to the Amazon India Chief, Amit Agarwal. The future investments will be used to focus on key areas such as its digital payments platform Amazon Pay and the Prime membership program.

Despite homegrown ecommerce firm Flipkart claiming the top position at this year’s month long festive season sale, Agarwal believes this was their biggest season ever. “If we look at last Diwali, more than 70% of the customers repeated (purchases) many times during the year. In fact, one out of every five of them became Prime members. And this year, the number of transacting customers from last year was more than two times,” he added.

Last week, the company claimed to have grabbed a 44% share of the total customers and shopping volume, which was higher than any of its competitors. However, Flipkart disputed Amazon’s claim and maintained that it had been the undisputed leader during the festival season.

Amazon founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos made a commitment to invest close to $ 5 billion in the lucrative Indian market. While the Seattle based firm has already invested more than $ 2 billion to scale up its Indian business, Amazon recently pumped Rs. 260 crores in its online payments platform Amazon Pay service.

Meanwhile, many Indian startups, in an attempt to level the playing field, have voiced concerns over the aggressive spending of global giants like Amazon and Uber in local markets. To this end, several founders of homegrown companies have launched the lobby group, Indiatech.org, to rally the government to create policies that serve the interest of smaller Indian companies.

Speaking about the lobby group headed by Flipkart founder Sachin Bansal, Amit Agarwal said, “I am as much as an Indian as anyone else out there and Amazon India is as much an Indian company as other startups. Other startups are as foreign in their investment profile as any other company. So I really don’t understand this. But our focus is very much on serving customers and we are committed to the long term.

Speaking to a news daily, the Amazon India head also stated, “Capital coming (sic) in India, whether it’s VC capital or other companies bringing in that capital, is good for the country. It’s just building more infrastructure and solving so many more problems. So free flow of capital is good for the country.”

SoftBank, which is an aggressive investor in India, has fueled thousands of dollars into several Indian companies like Ola, Uber, Flipkart, OYO and Paytm. Recently, SoftBank along with other venture capital firms like Matrix Partners and Kalaari Capital also joined the lobby group to provide financial and strategic expertise to the member companies.  However, SoftBank’s move to join the lobby group has raised concerns as the venture capital firm is in talks with San Francisco based cab hailing startup, Uber, for a major investment. 

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Supreme Court Puts End to Misleading Celebrity Endorsements 

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Supreme Court Of India

The Supreme Court of India has taken a strong stance against misleading advertisements featuring public figures, emphasizing their responsibility in promoting products. This decision comes in response to concerns about the influence celebrities and public figures hold over consumer choices.

 

The Heart of the Matter:

 

The court’s ruling highlights two key points:

 

  1. Shared Responsibility: Advertisers, advertising agencies, and the public figures endorsing products are all equally liable for issuing misleading advertisements. This means that celebrities can no longer simply lend their face to a product without due diligence. They are expected to have a good understanding of the product and its claims before endorsing it.

 

  1. Self-Declaration:  The court mandated a stricter protocol requiring advertisers to obtain a self-declaration from endorsers. This declaration, similar to the Cable Television Networks Rules (1994), ensures that the advertised product complies with existing laws and avoids offensive content.

 

Why it Matters:

 

Celebrity endorsements hold immense power in influencing consumer behavior. Consumers often trust the judgment of their favorite actors, athletes, or social media personalities. This trust can be exploited by promoting products with exaggerated claims or those lacking scientific backing. 

 

The Case that Triggered the Ruling:

 

The court’s decision stemmed from a case involving Patanjali Ayurved Ltd., a popular Indian consumer goods company, and yoga guru Ramdev. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) filed a plea against the company and Ramdev, accusing them of misleading advertisements and a smear campaign against COVID-19 vaccinations and modern medicine.

 

The Road Ahead:

 

This ruling is a significant step toward protecting consumers from deceptive marketing practices.  It encourages celebrities and public figures to be more selective and responsible about the products they endorse. Additionally, the court urged government bodies to implement procedures for consumers to easily report misleading advertisements. 

 

This move by the Supreme Court is likely to have a ripple effect across the advertising industry in India.  It will force companies to be more transparent and hold celebrities accountable for promoting products they don’t fully understand or that make unsubstantiated claims. 

 

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Mercedes Hits the Brakes on EVs: Profit Woes Lead to Focus on Gas-Powered Cars

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StartupStories - Mercedes

Luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz is experiencing a shift in gears, prioritizing gasoline-powered vehicles over its previously ambitious electric vehicle (EV) strategy. This comes after disappointing sales figures and shrinking profit margins for their electric offerings.

The Dream Runs out of Charge:

Mercedes, a leader in the luxury car market, had set a goal to be fully electric by 2030. However, sluggish sales of their electric vehicles, particularly the high-end EQS and EQE sedans, have forced a recalibration of their plans. The company’s profit margin dipped to a concerning 9% in the first quarter of 2024, falling below their long-term target range.

Why the Slow Charge?

Several factors are contributing to the lackluster performance of Mercedes’ EVs:

  •  Price Point Pinch: The high price tag of Mercedes’ electric cars, ranging from $70,000 to $120,000, limits their appeal compared to more affordable electric options. 
  •  Competition Heats Up: Other luxury carmakers like Tesla and BMW are offering strong competition, with some even surpassing Mercedes in EV sales growth. 
  •  Infrastructure Concerns: Gaps in charging infrastructure and anxieties about range remain significant deterrents for potential EV buyers.

Back to the Drawing Board:

In response to these challenges, Mercedes CEO Ola Källenius announced a revised strategy. The company will:

  •  Extend Focus on Combustion Engines:  Production of gasoline-powered and hybrid vehicles will continue well into the 2030s, catering to customer demand.
  •  Rethink EV Strategy: Mercedes will analyze consumer preferences and market trends to refine their electric car offerings. This may involve focusing on more affordable models or improving features to enhance range and charging efficiency.

The Road Ahead

The shift by Mercedes highlights the complexities of the automotive industry’s transition to electric vehicles. It underscores the need for car manufacturers to balance ambitious environmental goals with the realities of consumer behavior and market competition.

Is this a Permanent Pause?

While Mercedes is putting the brakes on its all-electric vision, it doesn’t necessarily signal a complete retreat from EVs. The company may leverage this time to strengthen its electric offerings and ensure they are competitive in the rapidly evolving market. Only time will tell if Mercedes can reclaim its position as a leader in the electric vehicle race.

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Reddit Soars After Strong Earnings and Upbeat Outlook

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Reddit, the social media platform known for its online communities and meme culture, saw its stock price jump significantly after releasing its first earnings report since going public in March. Investors were impressed by the company’s strong financial performance and optimistic forecasts for the future.

The report highlighted a surge in user engagement, with daily active users increasing by 37% to 82.7 million in the first quarter. This growth was accompanied by an 8% rise in average revenue per user, indicating Reddit’s success in monetizing its platform. 

Perhaps the most significant factor driving the stock price increase was Reddit’s forecast for the second quarter. The company projected revenue to fall between $240 million and $255 million, exceeding analyst expectations. Additionally, Reddit anticipates achieving break-even status or even generating a profit, surpassing predictions of a loss.

This positive outlook can be attributed in part to Reddit’s flourishing advertising business. The company is also capitalizing on a new revenue stream: content licensing deals with artificial intelligence (AI) firms. Reddit’s vast collection of user-generated content provides valuable data for training AI models, attracting companies like Google.

Analysts believe Reddit is still in its early stages of monetization and predict continued growth in the coming quarters, fueled by advancements in ad targeting and measurement tools. This optimism is reflected in the stock price surge, which has climbed roughly 70% since Reddit’s IPO.

Overall, Reddit’s first earnings report paints a bright picture for the company’s future. With a thriving user base, increasing revenue opportunities, and a promising outlook, Reddit appears well-positioned for continued success in the ever-evolving social media landscape.

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