Paytm stock slides after COO exit; India’s first microcontroller chip

Shares of Paytm parent One 97 Communications fell 5% on Monday after its president and chief operating officer Bhavesh Gupta resigned. More on this in today’s ETtech Top 5.

Also in the letter:
■ Gender mismatch in influencer marketing
■ Cognizant, Capgemini hired less in 2023
■ Infographic Insight: AI’s human-like performance

Paytm shares slide 5% on COO Bhavesh Gupta’s exit, hit lower circuit limit

bhavesh gupta

Bhavesh Gupta, former president and chief operating officer of Paytm

Shares of One 97 Communications, which operates Paytm, slumped 5% on Monday after the fintech informed the exchanges on Saturday about the exit of its president and chief operating officer Bhavesh Gupta.

Numbers: The fintech firm’s stock tanked 5% and closed at the day’s low of Rs 351.7 — its lower circuit limit — on the BSE. The index closed at 73,895.54 up 0.02%.

COO exit: Gupta will resign from his position and move into the role of an advisor to the CEO, One 97 Communications said in an exchange filing late on Saturday. Gupta, who oversaw the fintech’s payments and lending businesses, has decided to take a career break due to personal reasons, as per the filing.

Gupta along with founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma and group CFO Madhur Deora comprised the company’s top-deck.

Top deck changes: Paytm has seen major changes in its senior positions over the past few months. Varun Sridhar, CEO of Paytm Money, has now been appointed as the chief executive of Paytm Services, a subsidiary entity dedicated to distributing mutual funds and wealth products. Meanwhile, Rakesh Singh, formerly with PayU-backed fintech player Fisdom, will take the helm at Paytm Money. ET had first reported this on May 2.

This comes just weeks after Surinder Chawla, managing director and CEO at embattled Paytm Payments Bank, resigned from the company.

Business in trouble: ET reported on April 30 that after the central bank’s regulatory action, Paytm’s banking unit saw its mobile wallet business, one of its most popular offerings, come to a grinding halt.

The Paytm Playbook Apr 2024 Graphic ETTECH

According to data released by the RBI, Paytm Payments Bank reported 7.4 million fund transfer transactions in its prepaid payment instruments business in March, down 64% from 20.7 million in December 2023.

Semiconductor company Mindgrove launches India’s first commercial MCU chip

semiconductor manufacturing

Peak XV Partners-backed fabless semiconductor startup Mindgrove Technologies on Sunday said it has launched what it claimed is India’s first commercial high-performance SoC (system on chip).

Tell me more: Named Secure IoT, the chip is designed for IoT devices and will likely cost 30% less than those in similar segments. The Chennai-based startup said the chip will allow local companies to use an Indian SoC in their products and help reduce the cost of their devices, without compromising on high-end features.

Mindgrove will also offer design support to Indian brands to accelerate innovation and scale of production in India.

Why does it matter? Secure IoT is a high-performance microcontroller clocked at 700 MHz. The company said it is the only Indian chip that is commercially available in this segment. The chip is designed to provide programmability, flexibility, security and superior computing power for controlling applications on a wide range of connected smart devices.

Also read | Cabinet greenlights Tata’s Rs 91,000-crore chip foundry proposal

Cognizant, Capgemini hired 1.5 lakh fewer employees in 2023

job tech Hiring

The cumulative hiring by IT majors Cognizant and Capgemini globally declined by 151,607 employees in 2023 as compared to 2022, as per their regulatory filings.

Dip in hiring: Both companies have a majority of their employees based out of India — together, they employ around 400,000 people here. In 2022, while US-based Cognizant hired 132,000, French IT consultancy Capgemini recruited 140,789 employees in total, excluding people hired through acquisitions.

However, in 2023, Cognizant’s hiring number fell to just over 60,000, while Capgemini hired about 61,182.

IT Sector Hiring Trends

Supply vs demand: Peter Bendor-Samuel, chief executive of consultancy firm Everest Group, said these service providers over-hired during Covid to offset high attrition and on expectations that the high industry growth rate would continue. However, the industry has contracted, creating an oversupply of talent in these firms, he said.

“Another factor which is also contributing to the firms’ hesitancy to hire is the belief that Gen AI will reduce the need to hire L1s (in level 1) or freshers,” Samuel added.

Indian context: Top Indian IT service providers like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and Wipro too have seen a drop in their headcount, which declined by just under 70,000 in total in the fiscal year ended March 31.

Influencer marketing may have a gender mismatch

MIB advises social media influencers to avoid promoting betting ads

Women-specific cosmetics, beauty and personal hygiene brands are reviewing their influencer marketing strategy as the influencers they hired on Instagram were found to have over 70% male followers.

What’s happening? Beauty and cosmetics companies such as Nykaa, Lotus Herbals, Sugar Cosmetics, Lakme Lever, L’Oreal and Mamaearth collaborate with thousands of influencers. The issue is particularly magnified because beauty, followed by fashion, attracts the largest number of social media influencers, especially on Instagram and YouTube, according to industry reports and executives. And in the absence of credible analysis, they’re in a fix.

Core challenge: The biggest challenge for influencer marketing is determining the return-on-investment of campaigns and maintaining credibility. Vaibhav Gupta, chief product officer of data analytics and tech platform KlugKlug, which works with WPP, Reliance Jio and said, “Brands are hiring and paying influencers on the basis of the number of overall followers, and not on whether these followers are actually potential customers.”

Also read | Social AI influencers are helping Samsung, Google to push wares

Reviewing strategy: Citing risks of fake or mismatched influencers, company executives said they are resorting to mapping data on their own to mitigate wastage of marketing spends.

Infographic Insight | AI has hit human-level performance on some parameters: Stanford report

AI ettech

The open source brigade of artificial intelligence’s large language models (LLM) is growing. However, despite strength in numbers, they are not necessarily performing the best.

Closed-source models: In 2023, 149 new foundation models were released, more than double that in 2022. Of these, 65.7% were open-source, compared with only 44.4% in 2022. However, closed-source models achieved a median performance advantage of 24.2% over their counterparts, a new study by Stanford Institute said.

AI landscape in 2023 May 2024 Graphic ETTECH

The AI race: The US outpaced other countries in capturing investments in AI at $67.2 billion, 8.7 times greater than the amount invested in China. India was in tenth position worldwide, with $1.39 billion invested on AI here.

Today’s ETtech Top 5 newsletter was curated by Ajay Rag in Mumbai and Jessica Rajan in New Delhi.


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