Friday, January 28 2022

Dive In


I have been reliably, albeit discreetly, informed by people at Twitter India that they are under immense pressure by the government to silence my voice.

That’s what Rahul Gandhi wrote to Twitter in a letter complaining about his follower count—which has stagnated ever since his account was briefly suspended in August.  A Wall Street Journal investigation shows that he may be right. Gandhi gained an average of nearly 400,000 new users a month in the first seven months of 2021. But the monthly growth plummeted to less than 2,500 from September to December. Since Friday, however, his following has experienced a sudden surge—adding 11,000 numbers in one day. Twitter declined to comment on the allegation.


A super-duper event! The always awesome comedian Aditi Mittal will host our next AMA with Shrayana Bhattacharya—the author of the new book folks can’t stop talking about:Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh’. You can read reviews of the book here and here. The time/day: Saturday, January 29, 2022 at 6:30pm. Be sure to sign up for your slot here

Stuff to check out: On the latest episode of the splainer podcast ‘Press Decode’, the splainer team looks at the Great Indian Dreamers: Illegal immigrants and social media influencers. Be sure to head over to the IVM website, Spotify or Apple Podcasts to listen to it.

Big Story

The speedy new world of 10-minute deliveries

The TLDR: Investors are throwing money at delivery startups that promise instant gratification—which in turn is making many worry about the well-being of their employees. But how many people really need that bag of tamatar in 10 minutes?


Researched by: Sara Varghese


First, the big global picture

Ten-minute delivery startups have mushroomed around the world in a matter of months. Each aiming to disrupt the $2 trillion-a-year global grocery market. In just India, grocery retail is valued at $600 billion


  • The global star of the super-speedy delivery business is Getir—which first pioneered the model six years ago in Turkey. It opened in six European countries last year—and plans to expand across the US in 2022. In just six months, Getir raised nearly $1 billion to fuel this worldwide expansion.
  • And their valuations are eye-watering. Getir is valued at $7.7 billion—but that’s modest compared to Philadelphia-based Gopuff ($15 billion) and Instacart ($39 billion).
  • And investors love them. China’s Xingsheng Youxuan raised $3 billion earlier this year—marking the biggest ever funding round for a grocery startup.
  • The most crowded and competitive market is London—with at least eight startups offering superfast delivery times.


Point to note: This doesn’t include all the industry big boys—who are adding 10-15 minute delivery verticals to their existing services. Example: Uber Eats in the US or Swiggy closer to home.


Quote to note: As The Morning Context (paywall) wryly observes: 


“In the past few months, the race to deliver groceries to your doorstep has been moving from an hour to 45, 30, 15 minutes, or even less. At this point, same-day or even two-hour delivery is for losers.”


Meanwhile, in India…

According to Reliance, the instant delivery market is a $50-billion opportunity. So it’s hardly surprising that so many are scrambling to dominate the space.


Swiggy’s Instamart: is the tortoise of the bunch, offering to deliver your groceries in 15-30 minutes. The company recently raised $700 million—making it a decacorn, valued more than $10 billion—to make “meaningful investments” in its Instamart service, which is now available in 19 cities. 


Not far behind: Dunzo which unveiled a 19-minute “ultra fast” grocery service last year—which in turn attracted big Reliance moolah this month. The $240 million cash infusion—for a 25.8% stake—marks the entry of Indian retail’s big daddy into “quick commerce.” Expect Dunzo to also team up with all the kirana stores on JioMart to offer them speedy delivery.


The new kids on the block: Zepto—founded by two 19-year olds and backed by global funds like Glade Brook Capital. This is India’s first 10-minute delivery startup. The company is valued at $570 million—and plans to become a $20 billion company. While they’ve raised $60 million, their operation is still small. Zepto delivers 8,000-10,000 orders—compared to Instamart’s 150,000-160,000.


Older kid with a new name: Blinkit—formerly known as Grofers—which rebranded itself in December to signal its big pivot to superfast delivery. Announcing the change, founder Albinder Dhindsa said: “Today, we are surging ahead as a new company, and we have a new mission statement—‘instant commerce indistinguishable from magic.’” The service is available in 40 cities as of now—and plans to expand to 100 cities by March. Grofers had recently attained unicorn status—crossing $1 billion in valuation—after raising over $120 million from Zomato and existing investor Tiger Global Management. So you can see it as Zomato’s bet against Swiggy. Blinkit plans to become a $100-billion business.


The 10-minute model explained

Headlines that matter

Netflix India’s growing woes 

The two-season prequel to the blockbuster films—‘Baahubali: Before the Beginning’—is now being “reevaluated.” One of the seasons cost $20 million to make—and is already in post-production—but Netflix is apparently unhappy with it—and is planning to getting in new directors to replace Deva Katta (‘Prasthanam’) and Praveen Sattaru (‘Guntur Talkies’). Variety has that story. BBC News has a good report on why Netflix is struggling in India. 

Speaking of cinematic superheroes: HBO Max’s ‘Batgirl’ will include DC’s first openly trans character—Batgirl’s best friend Alysia Yeoh. She will be played by trans actor Ivory Aquino. (Hollywood Reporter)

One animal story

The prestigious Hansraj College in Delhi University now has a cow protection and research centre—with a single cow—which will do ‘research on various aspects of the cow’. And it will also provide “pure milk and ghee” for the students, and for the monthly havan conducted on the campus. Wah! (Indian Express)


In today’s edition

Sanity Break

  • Here’s a silly and wonderful tribute to mutton—’E Mere Pyaare Mutton’


Weekend Advisory

  • Good stuff to watch this weekend
  • A list of good reads

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