FactorDaily Year in Review: 2018

Following the money in tech and life

Team FactorDaily | 19 December 2018

January 22, 2018

In the last 4 years or so, India has become the ground zero for innovations in financial technology. The unified payments interface, or UPI, has played a crucial role in making this happen.

In this story, published early this year, Sunny Sen and Jayadevan PK take a look at how more than a year after demonetization, the action in mobile payments has shifted away from wallets.

As part of our corporate coverage, we also kept a tab on payments initiatives launched by companies like WhatsAppAmazonGooglePhonePe and Paytm.

January 29, 2018

In a country just embracing 3G technology, Jio’s punt on 4G was amusing. Airtel, Vodafone India, Idea Cellular among others were still rolling out the 3G network and waiting for people to taste internet on 2 or 2.5G networks. To be sure, globally, companies such as Vodafone, China Telecom, and Verizon had started building 4G networks. But, nowhere in the world had a telecom company built an LTE-only network from scratch. Jio did. 

Months later, the bet is starting to pay off. Jio is already the country’s second largest telecom company by marketshare. In this story, Sunny Sen brings you the details of an army of expats Jio hired to get where it is today. 

Jio’s ambitions go beyond mobile telephony. It has rolled out fiber to home services, a mobile wallet and has ambitions on serving nearly everything that runs on data. Here are our other stories on Jio in 2018. In 2019, we’ll bring you more on all this.

February 16, 2018

Ride-hailing company Ola has been rocked by allegations that one of its senior-most executives has been involved in corrupt practices, estimated to be running into millions of dollars, and has ordered an investigation into it.

The executive – Yugantar Saikia, Ola’s head of human resources and chief administrative officer – has had his work assets including laptop computer seized by the company and has been asked not to report for work.

Saikia is being investigated for allegedly favouring vendors in exchange for kickbacks, according to three sources. The seriousness of the development is evident from the fact that a ‘Big Four’ audit firm has been roped in to help with the investigation.

April 2, 2018

The demand for electric vehicles has increased sharply in the last couple of years, early as the shift away from vehicles based on internal combustion engines is. That is both an opportunity and threat staring India’s auto parts makers – who make nearly Rs 300,000 crore in revenues every year supplying to both domestic and global vehicle makers.

Despite regulatory flip-flops with its EV policy, India, too, will witness a gradual rise in EV adoption and auto component companies are gearing up. Their fortunes will be linked to how quickly a robust market for EVs develops in India and there is some concern that policies are not yet in place to be able to support domestic demand.

May 3, 2018

The biggest story in the tech and startup world was the acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart. It gave Indian venture capitalists the much needed exit story, made its founders and early employees very rich and also set a precedent for a mega cross border buyout in India’s fledgeling internet ecosystem (the Vodafone-Hutch telecom deal was about $19 billion). 

We were early to the story, along with a few other publications. We also brought you the negotiations that went behind the deal and the future of Flipkart after the acquisition. As we go into 2019, we’ll see the battle between Amazon and Flipkart heat up. We’ll also see players like Paytm and Reliance take a stab at e-retail. Follow our Flipkart stories here.


July 25, 2018

The corner room position at Facebook India was unoccupied for a while since October last year despite an extensive search (even on LinkedIn), a $2-million compensation package, and the immense power that comes with the job. 

In September, the company finally announced that Ajit Mohan, the CEO of Hotstar will join Facebook. It took Facebook long, winding months of search – there have been extensive meetings with more than half a dozen shortlisted candidates – before it could find the man to lead its Indian operations. 

Why? To put it simply, a yawning trust deficit and the difficulty in fixing it. A deficit that Facebook faces with almost all stakeholders in its ecosystem: users, regulators, advertisers, publishers, and agencies. This story talks about the headwinds Facebook will face in India. 

August 21, 2018

In February 2015, India’s biggest broadcaster Star India, launched Hotstar, a video streaming app for internet users. It now claims to have 100 million monthly active users, mainly acquired by streaming big-ticket sporting events and over 100,000 hours of television programming.

Hotstar’s growing user base should make it the most credible competitor to YouTube in India. The Alphabet Inc-owned video platform which mostly serves user-generated content has over 225 million monthly active users. As YouTube struggles to keep its content safe for brands, companies like Hotstar with highly curated content are set to gain.

This story brings you the details on how Hotstar plans to keep its lead. In 2018, we also covered how DailyHunt’s wants to become India’s content King, how Times Internet has made a bold move in the digital content space, Youtube’s challenges and Sharechat’s breakneck growth. More in 2019. 

November 12, 2018

WhatsApp is the only messaging app among those with over a billion monthly active users, which hasn’t started actual monetisation yet. In November 2016, WABetaInfo, a third-party website that reports on new features found in WhatsApp’s beta releases, reported that WhatsApp was going to launch a Snapchat Stories like feature. 

Our contributor Himanshu Gupta, found it very intriguing and predicted then that this feature would lead to advertising coming on WhatsApp. This hit story is a long piece that talks about the implications if WhatsApp starts making money from its users. 

Design: Rajesh Subramanian

Disclosure: FactorDaily is owned by SourceCode Media, which counts Accel Partners, Blume Ventures, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Jay Vijayan and Girish Mathrubootham among its investors. Accel Partners and Blume Ventures are venture capital firms with investments in several companies. Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder of Paytm. Jay Vijayan and Girish Mathrubootham are entrepreneurs and angel investors. None of FactorDaily’s investors has any influence on its reporting about India’s technology and startup ecosystem.