It’s Friday and we have some big Jio news again. A couple hours ago, Vista Equity (Private Equity firm in the US) announced that it would be investing $1.5B for a 2.32% stake in Jio Platforms. In the last two weeks itself, Jio Platforms has raised about $8B from Facebook, Silver Lake & Vista Equity which will go a long way in helping Jio reduce it’s net debt (currently $21B).
Coming to the day’s news, Swiggy’s cofounder is leaving the company & an AI vernacular SaaS company raises their Series A.
➡️ In a somewhat surprising (at least to outsiders), the CTO & Cofounder of Swiggy has announced that he will be joining Pesto Tech as one of their cofounders. In some news of similar vein, Andrew Linfoot (Ex-Cofounder & co-CEO) left the company earlier this week.
➡️ Pesto is a career accelerator that trains software engineers to get remote engineering jobs around the globe. The company runs on an ISA model (you don’t pay until you get a job) which I have long been critical of.
➡️ Pesto claims it can help its fellows get jobs at global tech companies, but their average fellow is paid ₹31L/year (~$41k) which is a low compensation for engineers with a couple years of experience in the US or Europe. The company’s page also lists a couple of fellows who work at Indian startups.
➡️ There are a bunch of reasons why the ISA model doesn’t work in India (hard to securitize, bordering on exploitation of fellow), but India does need more companies upskilling existing engineers and new engineers.
➡️ And why I’m not super certain why the CTO of one of India’s fastest growing companies would want to leave, he could surely help Pesto with his experience of being an IC for several years and building the engineering team at Swiggy from 0 to where it is now.
➡️ Rahul is also an angel investor in the company and has been involved with the team for a year in that capacity. I’m still convinced an ISA model can hit massive scale (esp with the company not having released an outcomes report with their placement rate), but can see Rahul helping the young team pivot.
➡️ Vernacular.ai an AI-SaaS company has announced a $5.5M Series A round led by Exfinity Ventures & Kalaari Capital with participation from AngelList, IAN Fund & LetsVenture.
➡️ The company, founded in 2016, provides an AI-based voice automation platform called VIVA which they claim “helps accelerate engagement strategy, and utilise cutting-edge speech recognition and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technology to provide superior customer experiences across diverse sectors.”
➡️ If that seems a little buzzword-y, the company essentially provides a platform for companies to build an automated customer support flow, aka an IVR for call centers. But they also have a suite of products for enterprise acessible via APIs for speech-to-text in over 10 Indian languages with over 160 dialects.
➡️ While I don’t think the company’s VIVA product is super new or innovative, there seem to be very few companies building APIs around vernacular translation or voice recognition. And as more Indians use the internet, they might be more comfortable with using their native languages to interact with apps, websites or platforms companies like Vernacular.ai are poised to thrive.
Feedback & ❤️ always appreciated
More tomorrow :) BONUS (Tweet of the day): https://twitter.com/vcstarterkit/status/1258589340403290113