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Google launches $10 billion India digitization fund

Feeling left out from the tech partners Facebook, Intel and Qualcomm ganging up to power Jio Platforms, Google decided to make news on it’s own merit. On Monday Google unveiled the Google for India digitization fund through which it plans to invest Rs. 75,000 Crores in India alone over the next 5-7 years.

What does Google mean? Like any long-term strategic presentation, the detail were more of blanket statements. However, they identified four main areas that would be worked on with this fund – easy access to information in vernacular Indian languages, building new products and services uniquely relevant to India, empowering businesses in digital transformation and leveraging technology and AI in areas of social good like health, education etc.

Why would Google do this? No, this is not Sundar Pichai’s way of giving back to his birth country. There are a few factors to be considered. One, brownie points with the government where you can always do with lobbying to ensure any new rules or regulations favour you. Two, higher foothold in a booming market. Currently, India has 500 million internet users and 450 smart phone users, with 90% of them on Android. For the year ended March 2018, Google reported an ad revenue of $1.23 Billion in India. As internet penetration and dependence grows, with an increased presence so will Google’s revenues from a visibly important digital market in the world. Third, with Chinese investments being viewed with suspicion, Google can be opportunistic about getting good partnerships and stakes in upcoming startups. As you can see, much goes on beyond the basic headline.

The growing interest in Silver

You know how it is in Bollywood movies. When the main hero gets exhausted or out of action, the supporting hero suddenly gets the spotlight. Gold is and probably will always remain the hero in this story. But, silver is getting some of the remnant spotlight.

What’s happening with silver: In the market crash of March 2020, while gold was probably the only asset to gain about 4.7% in the month, silver came out bruised with almost a 10% drop in value. However, the grey metal looks keen to make up considering an almost 8% jump in the last 10 days (compared to 2.26% in the case of gold) from Rs. 49.19 to Rs. 53.07, as per prices quoted on Gold Price India. And then there is the concept of gold/silver ratio which is the relationship between gold and silver prices. The long term average has been of gold being about 62 times the price of silver. Whereas currently, the metals are trading at a ratio of about 93. Although, some analysts do warn against depending merely on the gold/silver ratio.

Why is silver having it’s moment: In a world of uncertainty, humans tend to turn to something that is tangible. Hence, the soaring interest in gold. But, silver fulfils a lot of the same traits while having more room to inflate. Silver is also a tangible metal and highly malleable. Apart from jewellery, it has higher usage in industrial processes. When investors start having concerns about over inflated prices for gold, silver fills in that gap. However, gold remains much easier to invest in with options like ETF, bonds and mutual funds. Hence, treading into silver investing will require due diligence and caution.

Say aye to the AI mega unicorn

AI startup UiPath continued to create waves with a Series E funding round of $225 million, taking its’ valuation to $10.2 billion.

What is UiPath? Founded in 2005 in Bucharest, Romania by two entrepreneurs Daniel Dines and Marius Tirca the company with over $400 million in in annual recurring revenue claims to be among the fastest enterprise software companies globally. It is involved in hyper automation of back-end processes by using RPA or Robotic Process Automation. As per Tech Crunch “RPA helps companies add a level of automation to manual legacy processes, bringing modernization without having to throw out existing systems”.

Why is this an important development? Remember one of the big ongoing debates about technology and the future of jobs? UiPath falls squarely in the middle of that debate. Gartner found that RPA was the highest growing arm of enterprise software growing by 63% in 2018. Considering the current situation, automation has anyway assumed an increased priority for most companies and RPA is bound to play a bigger role.

IN SNIPPETS

Vodafone Idea slugs it out with TRAI over priority plans: A few days back Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel launched priority plans offering faster speed on certain plans. TRAI asked to hold those plans with the concern that it may (further) deteriorate quality for regular subscribers. Now, Vodafone Idea has challenged the hold order in the telecom tribunal.

Tata Sons might decide to stop having it’s fingers in two aviation pies: A Mint report states that Tata Sons is keen to exit the joint venture with Air Asia and focus only on Vistara, the joint venture with Singapore Airlines.

City Union Bank board approves funding plans: The board of City Union Bank approved a plan to raise funds up to Rs. 1100 Crores.

83 US wealthy individuals defy all stereotypes: 83 signatories including Disney heiress Abigail Disney and Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield have written to the government with the message – Tax us more! You read the last word right. They want to pay more in taxes so that it can aid in the coronavirus crisis recovery.

China and US play the sanction game over the Uighur Muslim crisis: China responded with sanctions of it’s own on US politicians after Washington blacklisted some Chinese politicians on allegations of human rights violations in the Uighur Muslim crisis brewing in Xinjiang province.

MARKET PULSE

The markets ended the day on a wafer-thin high compared to the last trading session. The lead was taken by RIL touching new highs after the news of Qualcomm buying a 0.15% stake in Jio Platforms.

Oil prices dropped on Monday with traders expecting likely disturbance in both aspects – demand and supply. Surge in cases globally put a shadow on future demand uptick while Russia and OPEC gave signs of impatience and wanting to get on with increasing production.

WILD CARD

In a world where the religion card seems to yield increasingly easier results, there is yet another rollback. The iconic Hagia Sophia is now being converted back from a museum to a mosque, inciting raised eyebrows and pained reactions. Originally constructed as a Christian Byzantine empire-era cathedral 1500 years back, Hagia Sophia operated as a mosque from 1453 to 1935. In 1935, it was converted to a museum, a status that has lasted less than a century. And you thought religion was complicated only in India. 

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