Housing.com Secures Rs. 100 Crores in Fresh Funding From SoftBank

Housing.com Secures Rs. 100 Crores in Fresh Funding From SoftBank

Japan-based SoftBank has invested an additional Rs. 100 crores in Housing.com to drive the growth of the realty portal.

Announcing the fresh funding, Mumbai-based Housing.com said that “it has secured a fresh round of funding from SoftBank, its largest investor”.

“The new Rs. 100 crores infusion will well-capitalise the company to drive its new strategy and growth plans,” Housing.com said in a statement.

The company did not disclose the SoftBank’s increase in stake after the fresh infusion of Rs. 100 crores.SoftBank had over 30 percent stake in the portal.

Founded in 2012, the portal had raised so far over $100 million (roughly Rs. 680 crores) in capital from leading investors, including SoftBank, Nexus Ventures, Falcon Edge and Helion Ventures.

“Softbank is one of the world’s largest and most successful investors. Their continued support as both investors and advisors to Housing.com is invaluable to us and signifies their long-term commitment to the company,” Housing.com CEO Jason Kothari said.

“We are now well-capitalised to aggressively execute on our focused strategy and growth plans and believe 2016 will be a great year for the company,” he added.

Housing.com has established a focused strategy on buying and selling homes, the largest and most lucrative segment of the real estate market.

With 85 million visits in 2015 and 1.7 million verified listings to date, Housing.com said it is building scalable revenue streams around its world-class product, market leading demand and supply, and is also going deeper in the value chain towards facilitating and fulfilling transactions.

The portal had acquired an online community for real estate (India Real Estate Forum), a popular CRM for developers (HomeBuy360), and a data analytics and due diligence company for real estate (Realty Business Intelligence).

These acquisitions would be leveraged to further the company’s strategy and growth plans, it said.

SoftBank had in 2014 announced plans to invest $10 billion (roughly Rs. 67,995 crores) in India over a decade. It has already put in $627 million (roughly Rs. 4,263 crores) into online marketplace Snapdeal and smaller investments in property site Housing.com.

Last week, SoftBank said the company may scale up its planned investment of $10 billion in the coming years as the telecom and Internet giant sees the “beginning of Big Bang” for the world’s second most populous market.


Hike Messenger Claims Over 100 Million Users

Hike Messenger Claims Over 100 Million Users

Mobile messaging app Hike claimed on Thursday that it has over 100 million users on its platform, with a monthly messaging volume of over 40 billion messages.

The company claimed that Hike has doubled the number of messages in five months, and has added over 30 million users since October 2015.

“Hike has emerged as a true platform over the last year and in 2016 we’re going to double down.” said Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO and Founder, Hike Messenger. The company hasn’t disclosed any statistics on daily or monthly active users, or which revealed which platform the messenger is most dominant on.

Users are spending over 120 minutes per week on the messaging app, the company claimed, adding that they view 11.2 news stories per day/ The company said that Hike Direct, which launched in October 2015 and lets mobile users interface without the Internet has transferred close to 10 million files.

Hike Messenger had extended its support to eight Indian languages a month ago. Its apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry devices. 90 percent of its users are under the age of 30, and based in India, the company said, adding that the app addresses challenges such as poor connectivity and limited data.

WhatsApp recently said that it apps are being used by nearly billion people in the world. Some of the other Indian apps to claim a user base of over 100 million include mobile commerce player Paytm andNimbuzz.


Anonymous Messaging App ‘Blindspot’ Stirs Controversy in Israel

Anonymous Messaging App 'Blindspot' Stirs Controversy in Israel

A new Israeli app launched by a company with investors including Will.I.Am and Nicki Minaj has been accused of encouraging teen bullying and Internet trolls.

The Blindspot app allows users to send anonymous messages, photos and videos to their contacts without the receiver being able to trace it.

It has shot towards the top of the charts in Israel but caused controversy with politicians and campaigners calling for it to be banned as it could feed online bullying.

A committee of the Israeli parliament on Monday criticised the app, which the company says has had over half a million downloads since it was launched in late December.

The brother of the country’s most famous model, Bar Refaeli, is one of the figures involved in Blindspot, which is due to be launched in the United States and Europe in the coming months.

The launch of Blindspot, owned by an Israeli firm, has been accompanied by the largest campaign for a new app in the country’s recent history, said Moran Bar, CEO of the Israeli blog Geektime.

Adverts showing a yellow smiley face with one eye covered by an eye patch adorn billboards across Tel Aviv and on major highways.

The app is a key part of the Shellanoo Group, which is funded in part by investments from global celebrities, including music stars Will.I.Am and Nicki Minaj, as well as Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich.The app works like other social networking channels such as Whatsapp, with users able to chat, send pictures and videos. But the identity of the sender remains anonymous.

‘A lot of sexual harassment’
Adam Shafir, a reporter on an Israeli technology television show, said there had already been cases of bullying.

He pointed to similar anonymous apps such as Secret, which was eventually closed down after a campaign against it.

“You have a lot of sexual harassment guys send girls remarks about their bodies, about the things they would like to do to them,” he said.

“And then there are specific threats, people saying things like ‘I will kill you’.”

The company say there are sufficient checks and balances, with users able to block people and flag threats. Messages deemed serious enough are passed onto police.

But Israeli parliament member Merav Ben Ari said she was concerned that young people would be bullied and could even commit suicide.

“If you are going to say something nice, you wouldn’t send it anonymously,” she said.

A survey late last year found that around one in five teenagers has experienced bullying online, with a fifth of those considering suicide.

In Israel last summer, a civil servant committed suicide after a post on Facebook accusing him of racism went viral a claim he denied.

‘It’s the future’
Shafir highlighted the case of a couple who were travelling in Europe when they received a message on Blindspot.

“The wife got messages saying her husband is cheating on her,” he said. “The man denies he is cheating, but this can destroy marriages.”

David Strauss, a spokesman for Blindspot’s parent company, admitted they had received around 300 emails from the irate husband.

“But we are just the platform,” he said.

On Monday, the technology committee in Israel’s parliament met to discuss the app.

Ben Ari said that “during the two hours we didn’t hear even one thing that was good about this app”.

But Strauss said that anonymity online was “simply an evolution, whether people like it or not”.

“Maybe this MP didn’t like when people started to use CDs, maybe she really liked cassettes,” he said.


Spanish Regulator Urges Removal of Obstacle to Uber’s Return

Spanish Regulator Urges Removal of Obstacle to Uber's Return

Taxi-hailing service Uber could see a temporary ban in Spain overturned after a regulator said on Thursday it had asked the government to remove restrictions on its service, saying they were anti-competitive.

Uber, embroiled in disputes with authorities around the world after aggressive international expansion,suspended its service in Spain in 2014 when a judge imposed an injunction after a request from Madrid’s taxi association.

(Also see:  Uber Vows to Keep Operating in Spain Despite Ban)

The judge also ordered telecommunications and electronic payment companies to ban transactions from Uber, which allows customers to book and pay for a taxi on their smartphones.

Spain’s competition regulator said the ministry’s requirement that private hire cars only carry passengers with prior bookings and its ban on allowing passengers to hail them in the street were unjustified.

“It reduces competition in urban passenger transport services and shields the monopoly regime in the taxi market,” the statement said.

More competition would benefit the consumer because there would be more vehicles available, shorter wait times and lower prices, it added.

Since its launch in Europe in 2011, the US start-up Uber has drawn the ire of traditional taxi drivers and faced court injunctions in several countries, including Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands as well as Spain.

It may be some time before the appeal is heard as Spain is currently stuck in a complicated process of forming a government after an inconclusive December 20 election.

The anti-trust regulator said it would take the matter to the courts if the government did not act on its request to remove the restrictions.

The San Francisco-based company scored another victory in Britain on Wednesday when London’s transport bosses decided not to impose a series of strict new rules that, among others, would have made operators provide booking confirmation details to passengers at least five minutes prior to a journey starting