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India’s Reliance Jio, which has disrupted the local telecom and features phone businesses in less than three years of its existence, is now ready to aggressively foray into many more businesses.

In a series of announcements, the subsidiary of India’s largest industrial house Reliance Industries today said it will commercially launch its fiber-optic broadband business next month, an IoT platform on January 1, 2020, and “one of the world’s biggest blockchain networks” in the next 12 months.

The broadband service, called Jio Giga Fiber, is aimed at individual customers, small and medium sized businesses, as well as enterprises, Mukhesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said at a shareholders meeting Monday. The service, which will be available starting September 5, will offer free voice calls, high-speed internet and start at Rs 700 per month.

Continuing its tradition to woo users with significant offers, Jio said customers who opt for the yearly-plan of Giga Fiber will be provided with the set top box and an HD or 4K TV at no extra charge. A premium tier, which will be available next year, will allow customers to watch many movies on the day of their public release.

The Giga Fiber broadband service, which also offers access to TV channels, will bundle games from many popular studios including Microsoft Game Studios, Riot Games, Tencent Games, and Gameloft,

Partnership with Microsoft

The company also announced a 10-year partnership with Microsoft to leverage the Redmond giant’s Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft AI platforms to launch new cloud datacenters in India to ensure “more of Jio’s customers can access the tools and platforms they need to build their own digital capability,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a video appearance Monday.

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Core to this mission is deep partnerships, like the one we are announcing today with Reliance Jio. Our ambition is to help millions of organizations across India thrive and grow in the era of rapid technological change…”

“Together, we will offer a comprehensive technology solution, from compute to storage, to connectivity and productivity for small and medium-sized businesses everywhere in the country,” he added.

As part of the partnership, Nadella said, Jio and Microsoft will jointly offer Office 365 to more organizations in India, and also bring Azure Cognitive Services to more devices and in many Indian languages to businesses in the country. The solutions will be “accessible” to reach as many people and organizations in India as possible, he added.

The first two data-centers will be set up in Gujarat and Maharashtra by next year. Jio will migrate all of its non-networking apps to Microsoft Azure platform and promote its adoption among its ecosystem of startups, the two said in a joint statement.

Ambani also said Jio is working on a “digital stack” to create a new commerce partnership platform in India to reach tens of millions of merchants, consumers, and producers.

The announcement comes weeks after Reliance Industries acquired majority stake in Fynd, a Mumbai-based startup that connects brick and mortar retailers with online stores and consumers, for $ 42.3 million.

More to follow…


TechCrunch

Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries is acquiring 87.6% stake in Fynd, a seven-year-old Mumbai-based startup that connects brick and mortar retailers with online stores and consumers, for 2.95 billion Indian rupees ($ 42.33 million), the two said in a brief statement late Saturday.

Fynd, which was founded in 2012, helps offline retailers sell their products to consumers directly through its online store, and also enables them to connect with other “demand channels” such as third-party e-commerce platforms Amazon India and Walmart-owned Flipkart.

More than 600 brands including Nike, Raymond, Global Desi, and Being Human, and 9,000 stores are connected through Fynd’s platform, Harsh Shah, co-founder of Fynd, told TechCrunch in an interview. Many brands also use Fynd’s products to ramp up sales on their own respective e-commerce businesses.

Since Fynd works directly with brands, it offers a wider selection of items and newer inventories to consumers, as well as faster delivery, Shah claimed.

fynd website 1

Fynd’s website

Reliance Industries, the largest industrial house in the nation that owns the country’s biggest physical retail chain Reliance Retail, has been a customer of Fynd for more than six years, Shah said. “Reliance runs a few major brands in the country. 25 of our existing brands are owned by them. Our Find Store product has helped their stores plug a lot of sales,” he said.

Fynd, which counts Google as one of its early investors, will continue to operate its existing business and has an option to secure an additional 1 billion India rupees ($ 14 million) by end of 2021 from Reliance Industries, Shah said. He declined to reveal how much capital his startup had raised prior to this week’s announcement. According to Crunchbase, the amount was about $ 7.3 million.

“Reliance is taking the majority stake in Fynd, but at the end of the day, for us it is like any other investor coming in. We will still continue to work separately, we have our own independent roadmap, and we have own clients and products that we plan to grow. So things continue as it is,” he said.

Fynd, which takes a small commission on each transaction that occurs online, is already profitable on an operating level and expects to be fully profitable in the coming quarters, Shah said.

It will continue to build and scale its existing products, including OpenAPI that allows merchants to quickly list their products on either their own stores or third-party sites and manage their inventories and sales.

Despite tens of billions of dollars of investment in India’s e-commerce market in recent years by Amazon India and Flipkart, physical retail dominates much of the sales in the country. But e-commerce businesses are growing, too.

The nation’s e-commerce space is estimated to scale to $ 84 billion by 2021, up from $ 24 billion in 2017; compared to India’s overall retail market that is estimated to be worth $ 1.2 trillion by 2021, according to a recent study by Deloitte India and Retail Association of India.

Reliance Industries, run by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani (pictured above), additionally has its own plan to enter the e-commerce business in what could eventually become the biggest headache for Amazon since entering the nation more than six years ago. Earlier this year, Ambani announced that his telecom operator Reliance Jio and Reliance Retail are working on an e-commerce platform.

Reliance Jio, which began its commercial operations in the second half of 2016, recently became the nation’s biggest telecom operator with more than 331 million subscribers at the end of June.

Separately, Amazon.com is in talks with Reliance Industries to buy more than a quarter stake in Reliance Retail, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. News outlets Reuters and Economic Times were the first to report this development.


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