Everyone seems to want a piece of Indian mobile operator Jio Platforms.
In late April, Facebook paid $5.7 billion for a 10% stake in the company backed by India’s richest man. Two weeks later, private equity firm Silver Lake popped its own $750 million check on the company, valuing it at $65 billion, or a 12.5% premium to the value of Facebook’s investment. Vista Equity followed on days later with $1.5 billion, and General Atlantic said last Sunday it would invest $870 million.
The investments come as Jio has managed to amass 388 million mobile users in the world’s largest untapped internet market by offering cheap plans to the underserved.
So how exactly does Jio plan to serve those 388 million users? The company’s got e-commerce plans: In contrast to Amazon or Walmart’s Flipkart, which offer a central site for ordering goods online, Jio’s online shopping business JioMart is onboarding mom-and-pop shops as hubs for ordering and delivering goods.
But Jio also wants to be so much more than that. With a digitally blank slate in India, the company wants to be a Swiss army knife of tech.
Per the Wall Street Journal: “[Chairman Mukesh] Ambani has said privately that his vision for Jio is to create a company that encompasses a telecommunications firm like Verizon Communications Inc., a service like Google, a digital payments company like PayPal Holdings Inc. and a digital content provider such as Netflix Inc., according to one of the people familiar with the executive’s thinking.”
While its parent company, Reliance Industries, is paying down debt and struggling with the coronavirus (its business is also in oil and gas), Jio is amassing a warchest.
Back to work: Truework, a San Francisco-based identity platform, raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Activant Capital Wednesday, with existing investors Sequoia Capital and Khosla Ventures joining the round. Truework says it offers a secure and fast way for lenders or rental agencies to verify employment information with companies, and gives employees the ability to consent to the transfer of information.
Truework recently rolled out a coronavirus verification tool for employers after receiving interest. Employers, says Truework CEO Ryan Sandler, were interested in finding a way to track which employees potentially have Covid-19 while storing the information securely. So Truework devised a system with self-reported employee surveys that can be sent daily, weekly, or monthly based on known coronavirus symptoms, and asks for employees to voluntarily share official healthcare documents.
While governments are developing contact-tracing tools, companies too are figuring out how to control their populations.