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Audio streaming platform Pocket FM raises $103 mn led by Lightspeed

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New Delhi, March 20 (IANS) Global audio streaming platform Pocket FM on Wednesday said it has raised $103 million in its Series D funding led by Lightspeed with participation from StepStone Group.

The new funding will strengthen the company’s push into the US market and also support global expansion as the company plans to expand into Europe and LATAM markets in 2024, it said in a statement.

The company will continue to strengthen its content library and create a strong IP playbook by providing the writer community with a stage to share their unique and unheard stories.

“Our focus remains on tapping into unique and exclusive stories to solidify our leadership in this emerging category and create a strong IP playbook. This latest funding validates our vision and the possibilities we bring to disrupt the industry,” said Rohan Nayak, CEO and Co-Founder of Pocket FM.

Pocket FM has built the largest repository of exclusive audio series, with over 100,000 hours of content, including more than 2,000 exclusive audio series and more than 400,000 episodes across genres and languages.

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The company has surpassed a $150 million annual run rate (ARR) and is growing at 57 per cent QoQ.

“It emerges as a great reference for the entertainment landscape, with its capability to demonstrate strong unit economics. They are not just building a new category but democratizing the entertainment landscape with a tech-driven approach,” said Harsha Kumar, Partner at Lightspeed.

The platform clocked over 20 million transactions in 2023 and witnessed over 75 billion minutes of streaming worldwide last year.

–IANS

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We can become 'Viksit Bharat' even before 2047 with robust startup ecosystem: Hardeep Puri

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Riding on the overall economic growth across the spectrum, especially in the vibrant startup and unicorn ecosystem, India can achieve the ‘Viksit Bharat’ status even before 2047, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Monday.

Addressing startup/unicorn founders and innovators during the ‘Digital Bharat, Viksit Bharat’ event in the national capital, the Union Minister said that India is the only economy that is growing, even at the most conservative estimate, at over 7 per cent, to become the fourth and then the third-largest world economy sooner than expected.

“This will happen only because of the quality of the transformation which has been facilitated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and its conducive policies,” he told the gathering.

Startups emerging from small cities, from less-privileged backgrounds, were not even conceivable 10 years ago, he noted.

“During the previous regimes, the only criteria required to become successful was connections. This is no more the case as innovation is now happening in small towns and cities,” Hardeep Singh Puri said.

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India is now home to more than 100 unicorns (with a valuation of $1 billion and above) and over 1.25 lakh startups.

“India is third in the number of unicorns and second in total number of startups and the first nation in creating new startups,” the Union Minister said.

–IANS

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No one will lecture India about 'WTO norms' anymore: Zoho's Vembu

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Zoho Founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu on Monday said that no country will lecture India about World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) norms anymore after the US imposed hefty tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs).

In March, China started dispute settlement proceedings against the US at the WTO, accusing Washington of “discriminatory” EV subsidies.

Last week, US President Joe Biden unveiled plans to quadruple tariffs on Chinese EVs.

“The US has imposed big new tariffs on Chinese EVs. Trade frictions, particularly between the US and China, are escalating rapidly,” Vembu posted on social media platform X.

“At least, no one will lecture India about “WTO norms” anymore. More seriously, this is the inevitable outcome of decades of extreme monetary madness, which gave rise to exploding trade deficits and debt,” he elaborated.

The Biden move plans to hike tariffs this year on Chinese EVs from 25 per cent to 100 per cent and on lithium-ion EV batteries from 7.5 per cent to 25 per cent.

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“Conventional wisdom has been that ‘deficits don’t matter.’ We don’t have to balance any book, we can let trade imbalances go on forever. It is this flawed idea that is undermining global trade now,” said Vembu.

The Biden administration also plans to hike tariffs on solar cells from 25 per cent to 50 per cent, on certain steel and aluminum products from up to 7.5 per cent to 25 per cent.

–IANS

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GenAI emerges as key theme in firms’ discussions in Q1 this year: Report

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) has emerged as a key theme in companies’ discussions in the first quarter (Q1) of this year, a new report said on Monday.

According to the data analytics and consulting company GlobalData, S&P 500 companies in their Q1 2024 earnings call transcripts had discussions about GenAI adoption, products/solutions on offer, strategic partnerships, investments, and application areas.

“Companies are looking at GenAI tools for better productivity, increased sales, brand awareness, and an enhanced customer experience. They are investing, collaborating, and leveraging to make use of this new and emerging opportunity,” said Misa Singh, Business Fundamentals Analyst at GlobalData.

According to the report, companies are applying GenAI to help customers and increase productivity.

Biotech firm Thermo Fisher Scientific is leveraging GenAI as part of its PPI (Practical Process Improvement) business system toolkit to help customers, on the other hand, management services company Automatic Data Processing is using GenAI to proactively deliver actionable insights in plain language to enhance HR productivity, aid decision-making, and streamline day-to-day tasks for clients and their employees, the report mentioned.

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Moreover, the report showed that companies are also teaming up to improve their AI capabilities.

Cognizant Technology Solutions is collaborating with ServiceNow to enhance its Work NEXT modern workplace services solution with GenAI capabilities.

Cognizant also discussed its plan to invest approximately $1 billion in GenAI capabilities over the next three years.

–IANS

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Global cybercrime cost insreased 12x faster than total cybersecurity spending: Report

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) As organisations continue to spend billions of dollars on cybersecurity each year to prevent their businesses from losing sensitive data and important figures, a new report on Monday revealed that the global cybercrime cost has increased 12 times faster than total cybersecurity spending in the past six years.

According to data presented by Stocklytics.com, the total cybersecurity spending has grown by 78 per cent since 2018 and the cybercrime cost soared by 972 per cent in this period.

In 2018, companies and organisations globally spent $102.7 billion on cybersecurity measures. Two years later, this figure increased to more than $150 billion.

As per Statista, the annual spending on cybersecurity solutions and services is to hit $183 billion this year, or 78 per cent more than the figure reported six years back.

Cyber attacks, including ransomware, data breaches, cyber espionage, and phishing, will inflict damages totalling $9.2 trillion in 2024, $1.1 trillion more than last year and a shocking 972 per cent more than six years ago.

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“This cost includes stolen money, damage and destruction of data, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, theft of personal or financial data, post-attack disruption to the ordinary course of business, restoration and deletion of hacked data and systems, and reputational harm,” the report mentioned.

Moreover, the report said that global cybersecurity spending is expected to hit $200 billion in 2025 — 50 times less than the annual cybercrime cost.

By 2028, cybercrime will cost businesses a shocking $13.8 trillion, or 49 per cent more than this year, the report noted.

–IANS

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TRAI move on new broadcasting policy to make India a global content hub: BIF

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New Delhi, May 20 (IANS) Broadband India Forum (BIF) on Monday commended the initiative by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to gather public input for the National Broadcasting Policy (NBP).

The BIF said an enabling policy framework can provide the much-needed fillip for the broadcasting sector to unlock its full potential and position India as a global leader in broadcasting.

“Coming on the footsteps of the recently announced Indian Telecommunications Act 2023, the proposed National Broadcast Policy could serve as a great enabler of reforms in the broadcasting sector and likely to give a big boost to the entire media and entertainment sector while making India a global content hub,” said T. V. Ramachandran, President of BIF.

In its submission, BIF has addressed four key areas, including bridging the viewership gap, tariff forbearance, OTTs are not broadcasting services and market-driven innovation for choice of direct-to-mobile (D2M) technology.

“Private DTH operators should be empowered to introduce innovative services akin to DD Free Dish to increase television penetration in rural and remote areas where Pay TV services might not be prevalent,” said the forum.

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It also advocated the need for permitting tariff forbearance like for telecom (where effectively only three operators available) so that private operators can optimise customer benefits and marketing strategies.

BIF stated that OTTs and broadcasting services are distinct from each other.

OTT is a sunrise sector with growth potential and is already contributing immensely to the growth of India’s digital economy.

According to a recent study by BIF, the economic value of the app economy estimated at the current rate of growth is expected to reach up to 12 per cent of India’s economy by 2030.

“Traditionally, OTT services have not been a part of the broadcasting ecosystem since they are functionally distinct from TV and radio broadcasting that involves a combination of carriage and content,” according to the submission by the BIF.

–IANS

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