Acquisition Alert: VerSe from India Purchases Magzter, a Competitor to Apple News+

VerSe Innovation, the parent firm of Indian news aggregator app Dailyhunt, has acquired the popular digital newsstand firm Magzter, the two said Thursday. The Bengaluru-headquartered startup has fully acquired Magzter, a New York-headquartered firm that counted Singapore Press Holdings among its backers. Magzter has amassed over 1 million paying subscribers in India and boasts a global active user base of 87 million, Bedi said. The firm, which offers an all-you-can-consume model with annual subscription fees ranging from $20 to $30, will find a distribution and technology partner in VerSe Innovation, he added. The Indian firm plans to launch Dailyhunt Premium this year that will include an ad-free experience as well as Magzter’s catalog.

Ghost, the Open-Source Alternative to Substack, Potentially Entering the Fediverse

According to a post from Ghost founder John O’Nolan, the company — which is structured as a nonprofit — is considering federating Ghost over ActivityPub, the social networking protocol that powers the fediverse. It also asks how federation would personally benefit Ghost users. With Ghost, however, the idea could be to federate the accounts of the writers who use Ghost to publish their content. After seeing O’Nolan’s post, Mastodon CTO Renaud Chaput reached out to help with the ActivityPub integration, which O’Nolan accepted. In addition to Newton, other notable Ghost users include 404Media, Buffer, Kickstarter, David Sirota’s The Lever and Tangle, to name a few.

Alternative Title: Underdog Founders and Their Investors: A Look into Databricks’ GPT Competitor

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Hello, and welcome to Equity, a podcast about the business of startups, where we unpack the numbers and nuance behind the headlines. This is our Friday episode, in which we dig through the most critical stories and themes from the week. But while the SBF news was a big deal, there was so very much more to cover on today’s news roundup episode of Equity. We also dug into two companies building startups focused around kids. Then, to wrap up, a look at just who unicorn founders really are, and a new $100 million fund that to back climate tech.

Sensor Tower’s Acquisition of Data.ai: A Strategic Move in the World of App Analytics

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Sensor Tower, a leading app analytics firm, is acquiring rival Data.ai in a move that consolidates the mobile intelligence industry, creating a powerhouse that could dominate the sector and provide aggressively competitive insights into the app economy. Sensor Tower didn’t disclose the financial terms of the deal but said Bain Capital and Riverwood Capital are providing credit-based financing. Data.ai had secured over three times the amount of funding compared to Sensor Tower, according to Crunchbase. Data.ai had raised over $157 million over various rounds, whereas Sensor Tower had raised just $46 million. Sensor Tower issued an apology in 2020 and said the company had taken the route it did to stay competitive.

Mistral AI unveils cutting-edge competitor to GPT-4 alongside revolutionary chat assistant

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Paris-based AI startup Mistral AI is gradually building an alternative to OpenAI and Anthropic as its latest announcement shows. Founded by alums from Google’s DeepMind and Meta, Mistral AI originally positioned itself as an AI company with an open-source focus. Mistral AI’s business model looks more and more like OpenAI’s business model as the company offers Mistral Large through a paid API and usage-based pricing. Mistral AI claims that it ranks second after GPT-4 based on several benchmarks. The first benefit of that partnership is that Mistral AI will likely attract more customers with this new distribution channel.

“Mastodon Vulnerability Exposed: How a Rivalling Spam Raid on Twitter/X Spotlights the ‘Fediverse'”

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A spam attack that impacted the open source X rival Mastodon, Misskey, and other apps highlights how the decentralized social web, also known as the Fediverse, is open to abuse. Over the past several days, attackers have targeted smaller Mastodon servers, taking advantage of open registrations to automate the creation of spam accounts. While this is not the first spam attack that has impacted the Fediverse, Rochko notes that only larger servers like Mastodon.social had been targeted previously. The spam attack highlighted one of the weaknesses that comes with how the Fediverse is structured. It makes me want to walk away and give up,” wrote one Mastodon server admin sam@urbanists.social.

Swiggy, the leading Indian company, to reduce 400 job positions before anticipated IPO in 2021

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India’s Swiggy to cut another 400 jobs ahead of IPO later this yearIndian food delivery startup Swiggy is cutting about 400 jobs, or nearly 7% of its workforce, as the startup seeks to bring further improvements to its finances ahead of a planned IPO later this year. This is the second round of layoff at the Bengaluru-headquartered startup, which cut just as many jobs early last year. The move comes as Swiggy attempts to further improve its finances. Though its food delivery business is profitable, the startup is not profitable at a group level. Zomato, Swiggy’s chief rival, became profitable last year.

Startup run by Instagram co-founders, Artifact, set to close operations

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On Friday, the startup announced via a blog post it had made the decision to “wind down operations” of the app launched over a year ago, saying that the market opportunity wasn’t big enough to warrant continued investment. It also employed several AI tools to summarize news, rewrite clickbait headlines, and surface the best content. Existing posts will remain visible for the time being, and Artifact will continue to operate its “core news capability” through the end of February. In part, the way users are finding news and information is changing with the arrival of AI. The co-founder had spoken about AI’s role at Artifact at this past fall’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.

“Mastodon’s Creator Praises Threads’ Federation, Declaring it a Superior Alternative to X”

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More importantly for Mastodon, Meta committed to integrating Threads with ActivityPub, meaning users would be able to find and follow both Mastodon and Threads users across both services. While many expected that integration wouldn’t arrive until early 2024, Meta surprised everyone by announcing yesterday that it would begin testing ActivityPub integration. I’m pretty optimistic about this,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post on Threads. Threads users’ profiles on Mastodon weren’t backfilled with their older posts before the integration went live. With Threads’ integration into Mastodon’s ecosystem, users will have more choice in how they want to engage with Threads users and content, including by accessing those accounts from an app of their choosing.

“Unleash the Power of Trending on Bluesky’s Rival, X, with Graysky’s ‘Pro’ Subscription”

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Meanwhile, the app’s broader update for all users brings several new features, including Trending Topics, to see what’s popular on Bluesky right now. On Bluesky, users can choose from multiple, custom feeds — a sort of algorithmic choice that other microblogging platforms like Instagram Threads and X don’t have. Of these, the “Trending Topics” section — available from the app’s search tab — is the biggest highlight as it makes the world of Bluesky feel more like Twitter/X. (It also reflects the community that has sprung up there, as tags like #furry and #nsfw are among the trending topics at this time). Graysky Pro is an optional subscription that supports the app’s continued development and includes additional features.