Come together, right now

Good morning,

No numbers can capture the extent of the suffering Indians are experiencing right now. If you know someone who’s struggling with Covid, our thoughts are with you, and them. Please mask up and stay safe.

Our top story today is on the various ways startups are pitching in to vanquish the virus.

Also in this letter:

  • 💰 upGrad bags $120 million
  • 📱 Why govt blocked social media posts
  • 📹 Paytm’s videos for young investors

Startups leverage strengths in Covid battle


Entrepreneurs, investors and startup collectives are donating money, using their logistics chains to help hospitals procure oxygen and other essentials, and aggregating information for people in need as Covid engulfs india.

Action Covid-19 Team Grants (ACT Grants), which many founders are rallying behind, has already raised Rs 50 crore in less than 24 hours. It plans to raise Rs 75 crore for health management at home, oxygen solutions, vaccinations, and supplementing the medical workforce.

ACT Grants was founded last year, when 34 founders and 44 investment funds including Accel, Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Kalaari Capital and LetsVenture joined hands to create a Rs 500-crore philanthropic fund.

Who’s doing what: Ashish Singhal, cofounder of crypto investment platform Coinswitch, pledged $1 million to ACT Grants while Pravin Jadhav, founder of Raise Financial Services, pledged $50,000.

  • Paytm said it has raised Rs 2 crore internally to source 10,000 oxygen concentrators. It has invited donations from users and said it will match these.
  • Logistics and supply chain startup Delhivery is providing subsidised logistical support to import oxygen concentrators from China
  • Online travel company EaseMyTrip said it has started to import oxygen concentrators.
  • Pharmeasy plans to use its network of 80,000 retailers and 5,000 distributors to speed up vaccinations.

VC ready to fund oxygen imports

Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, one of the most prominent Indian American names in Silicon Valley, said on Twitter that he wanted to help hospitals in India tide over the oxygen shortage.

  • “I’m willing to fund hospitals in India that need to import planeloads of oxygen or supplies into India to increase supply. Public hospitals/NGOs also pls reach out,” he tweeted. In a follow-up tweet, Khosla said that he has already donated to the cause.

Vaccine plea: Khosla also urged the US government to consider releasing stockpiles of unused AstraZeneca vaccines to India. “The AZ vaccine is unlikely to be ever approved in the US given current alternatives here. @Potus (President of the United States) should absolutely release all doses and future commitments for US supply since Moderna and @pfizer can supply US needs,” he tweeted.

Tweet of the day

upGrad bags $120 million from Temasek

ED tech

Education technology startup upGrad has raised $120 million from Singapore’s sovereign fund Temasek in its first external fundraising.

Unicorn in the making? The six-year-old company, promoted by media entrepreneur Ronnie Screwvala, is expected to be valued at $575-675 million after the funding. Screwvala declined to comment on the details during an interaction with ET. “We are not a unicorn yet. But we are not too far behind,” he said.

  • The online education segment, both K-12 and higher education, has seen a rush of risk capital following the Covid-19 epidemic. upGrad works in the post K-12 education space, offering online courses from universities around the globe.

What’s the plan? “The proceeds will be used for mergers and acquisitions to complement our ecosystem in higher education and working professional bases,” Screwvala told ET. Besides acquisitions, the fresh infusion of capital will go into expanding upGrad’s presence into the US, UK, Middle East and the Asia-Pacific.

Blocked social media posts to ‘prevent obstructions’, says govt

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The government directed social media platforms such as Twitter to block around 100 posts over the weekend in order to “prevent obstructions” in the fight…

Read More: Come together, right now

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