Sadhana Chathurvedula

Mint presents what’s happenings in the e-commerce and start-up world this week. Who got fined? Who’s taking a tough stance? And who’s battling regulators?

The answer to the last question holds no surprises: Uber.

Uber, Karnataka battle continues

On Thursday, Uber Inc. and the Karnataka government continued to fight as the state government redirected Uber to a new regional transport office (RTO) for an inspection of its cabs, a process that the company said it had already completed. The government didn’t issue an operating permit to the taxi service. Read more

The redirection order on Uber came on Tuesday, the same day that its rival Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) obtained a licence under the Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules 2016, notified on 2 April.

Ola revenue jumps from 51 crore to 418 crore

That’s how much the revenue at Ola, run by ANI Technologies Pvt., jumped in 2014-15 from a year ago, an eight-fold jump, according to documents available with the Registrar of Companies. Losses, however, jumped by more than 20 times—from 34.21 crore to 754.87 crore—during the period, indicating heavy expenditure to gain market share. Read more

Meanwhile, last week, Ola started piloting a car rental service on an hourly basis, in a departure from its business of point-to-point travel. This marks Ola’s entry into a segment that has so far been the forte of other start-ups such as Google Capital-backed Savaari Car Rentals and My Taxi India Pvt. Ltd, besides car rental agencies.

Some news from Flipkart

Flipkart is bringing back senior employees who left the firm in its turnaround efforts. At least three former senior Flipkart executives are back at the company under Binny Bansal, who replaced Sachin Bansal—now executive chairman—as chief executive officer in January.

It has also changed its policy towards third-party sellers on its platform, in an effort to improve customer service. Flipkart is now charging higher commission rates in key categories such as fashion, passing on costs of product returns to sellers, and encouraging them to use its logistics service. Read more

On Tuesday, Mint reported that Flipkart decided to shutter Ping, and Image search, two features it introduced last year. Ping allowed users to browse for products and share them with friends inside Flipkart’s app, and was launched by former chief product officer Punit Soni, who quit the firm in April.

Image search allowed users to browse for similar products based on images they upload on the site. Flipkart had partnered with Singapore-based start-up, Visenze, to launch this feature. Read more

Should Indian e-tailers really be overawed by Amazon’s huge cash flow?

Turns out that Amazon, though cash-rich, isn’t as cash-rich as it is perceived to be. Indian firms have a tough time ahead of them in this competition, but needn’t be overawed by Amazon’s seemingly huge free cash flow. Read more

Angel tax, and the riders it comes with

‘Angel tax’, where capital raised by start-ups from domestic angel investors was to be taxed as income if the investment exceeds the fair market value of the start-up’s shares, was discontinued last week. But this comes with riders attached, and to make things really simple for start-ups it might be best to do away with it totally, this column argues. Read more

Privacy, privacy, privacy

Advertising technology firm InMobi has come under fire for tracking the location of millions of consumers, including children, without their consent and is going to pay $950,000 in civil penalties to settle charges by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Under the settlement terms, InMobi was subject to a $4 million penalty, which was reduced to $950,000 based on the company’s financial condition.