TravelTriangle raises $12M to digitize India’s travel bookings

TravelTriangle, a startup that is digitizing travel agencies and travel bookings in India, has raised a $12 million Series C round led by Fundamentum.

The startup operates like a travel booking platform to allow holidaymakers to choose and secure their travel plans online. It also works with offline travel agents to help them offer services, such as tailoring a trip, to customers as they do when they walk into their offices in person. The company also offers a suite of back-office services designed for agencies to help bring them on to its platform and generate additional revenue.

The deal marks the first investment from Fundamentum, a new $100 million fund established by Nandan Nilekani, a co-founder and the former CEO of $33 billion IT services giant Infosys, and Helion Ventures partner Sanjeev Aggarwal .

When the fund launched last July, Nilekani told TechCrunch it is aimed at turning promising Indian startups into unicorns. Notably, Nilekani confirmed that Fundamentum has looked over some 50 deals before electing to back TravelTriangle.

Fundamentum led the round — and may perhaps hog the limelight a little given the circumstances — but the firm was joined by existing TravelTriangle backers SAIF Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners and RB investments who also took part.

TravelTriangle closed a $10 million Series B in February 2017, since then it has seen its site traffic jump from two million to 2.5 million per month, while it has grown the number of active travel agents on its platform to “close to 700.”

Sankalp Agarwal, TravelTriangle’s CEO and one of three co-founders behind the business, told TechCrunch that the money will be spent on product R&D. In particular, he said, a recommendation engine is being developed that will help customers get holiday ideas based both on their own history and the type of trips and destinations that other customers who are similar to them have taken.

On that front, TravelTriangle is also working to broaden its selection of destinations that it offers from the current total of 65. That means finding new partners outside of India.

Agarwal said, too, that a chunk of the new capital will go towards marketing campaigns aimed at growing Travel Triangle’s brand and generating awareness among consumers.

He said there’s no immediate plan to focus on expanding the business overseas. He did acknowledge, though that already the service has picked up some overseas customers — particularly in Sri Lanka — and that, as an online platform, it would be possible to replicate overseas.

Most likely, international expansion would be something that is two to three years away, he added, as Travel Triangle is aiming to reach double-figures of market share within India’s travel industry. Outbound tourism alone is tipped to reach $45 billion by 2022, according to research, while in-country travel accounts for the majority of trips.

CoinTracker raises $1.5M to make tracking crypto investments easy for anyone

It’s April, that means tax returns for people in the U.S. very soon. Given the breakout year that crypto had in 2017 — despite prices cooling down in recent months — and well-intended individuals might be thinking about whether to file taxes based on gains they enjoyed from bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

It’s good timing, then, for CoinTracker — a San Francisco-based startup currently tracking $200 million in crypto assets — to pop its head above the parapet and announce that it has raised a $1.5 million seed round.

We wrote about the company earlier this year when it was part of Y Combinator’s winter cohort, and now it has spread its wings with a round led by Initialized Capital — a seed investor in billion-dollar crypto exchange Coinbase — with Y Combinator and a host of angel investors joining in for the ride. Some of those include Protocol Labs CEO Juan Benet and Paul Buchheit, the engineer who created Gmail.

CoinTracker is (as the name suggests) a product that lets you track your crypto portfolio.

Sure, there are a tonne of such services and apps on the market but, having bought and used most of them, there’s none that really fits snuggly. That’s because a lot of the data input is manual. That’s important if you truly want to track the success of your investing, you need to know obvious information like what the price of bitcoin was when you bought. When you factor in crypto-to-crypto trading — e.g. trading bitcoin for ethereum — and the price changes that happen, suddenly your manual attempt to track performance is lacking.

That’s just speaking as a hobbyist. More serious investors are even more underserved, and that is where CoinTracker is aiming to make its mark.

The service tracks your crypto across wallet addresses — using public information, nothing private — while it throws in API keys from the top 14 crypto exchanges. That helps fill in more gaps and give you a fuller read on how your crypto investment has performed. A transfer matching algorithm is in place to help figure out trades on decentralized exchanges, which are more complicated to track.

By pulling that information, CoinTracker is also in a position to help those well-intended individuals I mentioned earlier give the taxman an accurate read on they crypto gains to remain IRS compliant.

Going forward, the plan is to tap into that holistic picture of crypto portfolios to offer more services, CoinTracker co-founder Chandan Lodha told TechCrunch in an interview.

Lodha, formerly a product manager with Google X, started the service alongside co-founder and former TextNow CTO Jon Lerner because both were looking for something to track their crypto investment hobby. When they realized a whole lot more people — both on the more serious and casual end of the spectrum — were too, they made it their main focus.

Lodha said the service aims to set itself apart with a focus on ease of use and simplicity, and he expects that to continue and be reflected in future services that could include trading via exchanges inside the app.

“The key reason we’ve had some success to date is due to focusing on the UX,” Lodha said. “There are tonnes of other tools but one thing that really resonates with our users is that we’ve made it easy to use for mainstream people, not just expert cryptography folks.”

Indeed, gathering and acting on user feedback is a common theme with Lodha, who said the money will go towards adding to CoinTracker’s developer team to work on the “large number” of user requests received. 

Now to price: the basic tracking service is free, but users pay from $49 up to $999 per year for more advanced features centered around optimizing tax filings by computing capital gains reports using FIFO, LIFO or HIFO accounting.

Disclosure: Writer owns a small amount of cryptocurrency.

Uber acquires bike-share startup JUMP

Uber has acquired bike-sharing startup JUMP for an undisclosed amount of money. This comes shortly after TechCrunch reported that JUMP was in talks with Uber as well as with investors regarding a potential fundraising round involving Sequoia Capital’s Mike Moritz. At the time, JUMP was contemplating a sale that exceeded $100 million. We’re now hearing that the final price was closer to $200 million, according to one source close to the situation.

JUMP’s decision to sell to Uber came down to the ability to realize the bike-share company’s vision at a large scale, and quickly, JUMP CEO Ryan Rzepecki told TechCrunch over the phone. He also said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi’s leadership impacted his decision.

“I had a chance to spend a couple of evenings with him, and really talk through his vision for the business and our vision, and saw a lot of alignment,” Rzepecki said.

He noted that while Uber had a rocky 2017, he’s optimistic Uber is on the right track.

“I think it’s really on the right course now and [Khosrowshahi] believes the way we approach working with cities and our vision for partnering with cities” aligns with Uber’s mission, Rzepecki said. “That was important for me and his desire to do things the right way. This is a great outcome and gives me a chance to bring my entire vision to the entire world.”

Meanwhile, becoming a top urban mobility platform is part of Uber’s ultimate vision, Khosrowshahi told TechCrunch over the phone. As more people live in cities, there will need to be a broader array of mobility options that work for both customers and cities, he said.

“We see the Uber app as moving from just being about car sharing and car hailing to really helping the consumer get from A to B int he most affordable, most dependable, most convenient way,” Khosrowshahi said. “And we think e-bikes are just a spectacularly great product.”

As part of the acquisition, JUMP employees will join Uber’s team but the bike-share company will carry on as an independent, wholly controlled subsidiary, Rzepecki said.

JUMP is best known for operating dockless, pedal-assist bikes. JUMP’s bikes can be legally locked to bike parking racks or the “furniture zone” of sidewalks, which is where you see things like light poles, benches and utility poles. The bikes also come with integrated locks to secure the bikes.

Uber’s acquisition of JUMP is not too surprising. In January, Uber partnered with JUMP to launch Uber Bike, which lets Uber riders book JUMP bikes via the Uber app. The majority of trips, however, still come through the JUMP app, Rzepecki said. For the time being, JUMP’s app will continue to exist but that may eventually change.

“It’s our hope the experience will be more deeply integrated into the Uber app moving forward and reflects what Uber has been working on in terms of being a multi-modal platform,” Rzepecki said.

Meanwhile, Uber’s international competitors have made similar moves. India-based ride-hailing startup expanded into bicycles in December. Called Ola Pedal, the service is available on a handful of university campuses in India. Then there’s Southeast Asia’s Grab and China’s Didi, which both launched their own respective bike-share services this year. Both Didi and Grab have also invested directly in bike-sharing startups Ofo and OBike, respectively.

With JUMP under the ownership of Uber, we likely won’t see JUMP partner with any of Uber’s direct competitors, but Rzepecki said other types of partnerships could be interesting.

“I think the idea of us being inside the Lyft app is not necessarily likely but there may be other partnerships that we’re able to do that are less directly competitive,” Rzepecki said.

In January, JUMP closed a $10 million Series A round led by Menlo Ventures with participation from Sinewave Ventures, Esther Dyson and others. JUMP’s January funding brought its total amount raised to $11.1 million. That same month, JUMP became the first stationless bicycle service to receive a permit to launch in San Francisco. Since then, JUMP has launched 250 dockless, pedal-assist bikes on the streets of San Francisco. Currently, people take between six to seven rides per day, with an average trip length of 2.6 miles, Rzepecki said.

“We really know we are serving a commute,” Rzepecki said. “We’re serving the morning and evening commute. I think 22 percent of trips are in the morning and 20 percent in the evening commute. We’ve really been a commuting solution.”

In October, the SFMTA will determine if JUMP can deploy an additional 250 bikes. The SFMTA will make its decision based on an evaluation of the program’s first nine months. That evaluation, the SFMTA told TechCrunch in January, will entail determining where the city should promote stationless bike-share, the impact stationless bike-share has on the public right-of-way, “including maintaining accessible pedestrian paths of travel, as well as the enforcement/maintenance burden on city staff.”

JUMP also operates its e-bike network in Washington D.C., and plans to launch in Sacramento and Providence, Rhode Island later this year. Through its software and hardware offerings, it operates via third-parties, like cities, campuses and corporations, in 40 markets including Portland, New Orleans and Atlanta. JUMP is also interested in deploying its bikes in Europe, where it hopes to be by spring of 2019. JUMP has also applied for a permit to operate in New York, which recently legalized electric, pedal-assist bikes.

E-bikes, of course, are not the only way to get around town these days. This year, we’ve seen a number of startups launch electric scooters. While San Francisco is trying to figure out how to regulate them, people are watching closely to see what comes next.

Khosrowshahi is one of those people. He told me he’s been “staring at some of them quizzically on the streets.”

Scooters are in an “odd spot” due to the lack of regulation, Khosrowshahi said, but Uber will “look at any and all options” that “move in a direction that is city friendly.”

Additional reporting by Katie Roof.

Grab delays shuttering Uber app as Singapore probes merger deal

Fans of Uber in Singapore will have a little more time to continue using the app after Grab, the rival that is acquiring Uber’s business in the region, agreed to extend the life of the app until April 15 while the country’s competition commission reviews the merger deal.

Grab had originally intended to close the Uber app by April 8, but that has been delayed in Singapore by one week following a request from the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) while it continues to assess the implications of the tie-up.

This agreement only covers Singapore, however, so the Uber app will be closed in the seven other countries where it was operational on April 8. Uber Eats is also being transitioned to Grab, as part of its Grab Food platform, and it will be closed at the end of May.

Last week, the CCCS said it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act. The organization issued an Interim Measures Directions (IMD) to Uber and Grab — the first of its kind in Singapore — which instructed both parties to “maintain pre-transaction independent pricing, pricing policies and product options,” hence the extension of life for Uber’s app.

Grab said it had provided an alternative proposal “which takes into account our role in Singapore’s vibrant point-to-point transport industry and how Grab serves commuters and drivers,” which the CCCS confirmed that it is reviewing.

A Grab spokesperson declined to discuss the details of the proposal with TechCrunch.

At this point it is unclear whether the Uber app will get another extension. Assuming that the CCCS doesn’t come to a conclusion within the next week and the IMD remains, then Uber may live on a little longer in Southeast Asia . But, if the commission is ready to move on, then the April 15 close will happen as scheduled.

Here’s the key segment of concern to the commission:

About the Section 54 Prohibition under the Competition Act & Merger Procedures

Section 54 of the Act prohibits mergers that have resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition in Singapore.

CCCS is generally of the view that competition concerns are unlikely to arise in a merger situation unless:

The merged entity has/will have a market share of 40% or more; or
The merged entity has/will have a market share of between 20% to 40% and the post-merger combined market share of the three largest firms is 70% or more.

One major factor is how Grab’s business is viewed. The commission defines the space not as ride-hailing — where Grab would appear to hold a significantly dominant position by acquiring Uber’s business — but instead as “chauffeured personal point-to-point transport passenger and booking services.”

In that respect, taxi companies in Singapore — which allow booking by SMS and phone call, and also offer ride-hailing apps in some cases — may be considered competition which might water down Grab’s market share. Likewise, Grab’s case may be helped by Singapore carpooling service Ryde’s plan to add private car services in an effort to fill some of the gap post-Uber.

Here’s Grab statement in full:

Grab continues to engage closely with the CCCS. We’ve had productive discussions on our alternative proposals, which more appropriately address the CCCS’ objectives during this interim period, and which takes into account our role in Singapore’s vibrant point-to-point transport industry and how Grab serves commuters and drivers. Together with the CCCS and Uber, we’ve agreed that the Uber app will run for another week until 15 April, while the CCCS considers Grab’s proposal. We hope the CCCS will complete its review in an expeditious manner, so that we can continue competing with incumbent transport companies and with new entrants. We will continue working with the CCCS and other relevant agencies to ensure a pro-business and pro-innovation environment, so that Singapore consumers can benefit from new and improved services.

In the meantime, the Grab app operates as per normal. The extension also gives Uber drivers more time to sign up on alternative platforms. Grab has helped thousands of former Uber drivers sign up to the Grab platform and will continue to provide support to those who are interested, as well as to obtain their PDVL.

Note: The original version of this article has been updated to correct that the Uber app will only be extended in Singapore, not across all Southeast Asian markets.

Botanalytics offers analytics for conversational interfaces and chatbots

The rise of chatbots and smart speaker-powered voice assistants, such as Alexa and Google Home, has produced the need for specialist analytics so that developers can track how well those conversational interfaces are working. Hoping to take a chunk of this nascent market, including competing with Google’s own chatbot analytics product Chatbase, is Istanbul and San Francisco-based Botanalytics.

Previously backed by 500 Startups, the company quietly raised $1 million in seed funding late last year. The round was led by ACT Venture Partners and will be used by Botanalytics to further develop its technology.

This will include enhancing support for “voice first” platforms, and enabling business to gain actionable insights based on customer conversations, including understanding how to improve customer support across various channels. The idea is to be able to optimise voice and chatbot performance for engagement, retention and other KPIs.

As it stands, Botanalytics supports a plethora of existing platforms including all of the big names: Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Messenger, Slack, Twitter, Telegram, Kik, Twilio, Skype, Line, Microsoft Teams, WeChat and Viber.

The analytics offering spans a number of features, such as “fundamental metrics” measurement, segmenting conversations, tracking activities of a chatbot, retention of conversations, live take-over, broadcast messages and the ability to set up funnels.

The Botanalytics tech also claims to be powered by AI (presumably NLP). This makes it possible to track transcripts of any conversation — including rich media such as video, audio, location and images — and compare live conversations with historical ones.

CEO Ilker Koksal tells me the main difference with Botanalytics compared to competitors is that is it positioning itself as a broader conversational analytics play, including newer voice interfaces, and traditional customer support, not just chatbots. “We’re analyzing all conversational channels of companies,” he says.

To that end, Koksal says Botanalytics’ customers are agencies that build bots for clients and companies with various customer support channels. They include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Ford, L’Oréal and GoPro.

500 Startups takes strategic investment from Abu Dhabi Financial Group

500 Startups, the U.S.-headquartered VC firm hit by scandal last year after co-founder Dave McClure resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct, has announced an unconventional deal that sees Abu Dhabi Financial Group (ADFG) take a stake in its parent company.

It is normal for VC firms to work closely with big corporates as LPs that supply money for their funds — the Middle East has proven to be fertile hunting ground for the likes of 500, Uber and Softbank — but direct investment in parents is not common in VC-land. ADFG has been an LP with 500 for some time and Christine Tsai, who heads the VC firm up, said there is “strong alignment on vision and complementary strengths” between the two.

Founded in 2011, ADFG claims to have $6 billion in assets under management via offices in the UAE, UK and Eastern Europe. The firm covers public markets, private markets, real estate and debt investments.

500 isn’t saying what size ADFG’s investment other than it will lead to “substantial capital” being injected into the firm to “accelerate the growth of our key initiatives, expand into new markets, and anchor future 500 funds.”

ADFG will also get a board seat at 500, Tsai confirmed.

Unlike most U.S. VCs, 500 has offices, accelerator programs and micro-funds across the world including Europe and Asia. In the aftermath of McClure’s scandal last year, the firm shuttered its Canada-based fund while a maiden Australia-based program was axed by partner LaunchVic, a $60 million entrepreneurship scheme backed by the government of Victoria, before it even started.

SoftBank leads $450M investment in Paytm’s e-commerce business

SoftBank is at it again giving money to companies that rival startups it has already invested in.

The Japanese firm and its long-time ally (and existing Paytm backer) Alibaba have come together to invest $450 million more into Paytm’s e-commerce business, Paytm Mall, as first reported by Mint. The deal is said to value the business at $1.6-$2 billion, with SoftBank providing around $400 million of the committed investment.

SoftBank is already present in India’s e-commerce space courtesy of an investment in Flipkart via its Vision Fund. The firm also previously backed Snapdeal which it tried to shoehorn into a merger deal with Flipkart that was ultimately unsuccessful.

Alibaba meanwhile has been behind the core Paytm business, which specializes in mobile payments with plans for financial services, having invested $1.4 billion into parent firm One97 Communications last year. This new deal signals its crossing into the e-commerce business, too.

“This latest investment led by Softbank and Alibaba reaffirms the strength of our business model, growth trajectory, execution capability and the potential of India’s massive O2O model in the retail space,” Amit Sinha, Paytm Mall COO, told Mint in a statement.

SoftBank added: “Paytm Mall’s offline-to-online operating model, combined with the strength of the Paytm ecosystem, is uniquely positioned to enable India’s 15 million offline retail shops to participate in India’s eCommerce boom.”

Alibaba’s involvement in Paytm has seen the business — or rather, its many businesses — become proxies for Alibaba in India.

Paytm Mall has linked up with Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace in China to extend the reach of Chinese merchants into India. Similar arrangements have also been reached in Southeast Asia via Alibaba’s Lazada e-commerce business.

Alibaba has also got behind the mobile payment component of Paytm — which bears a likeness to its Alipay  unit — while you can see the influence of the Chinese firm, and in particular its Ant Financial affiliate, with Paytm’s plans to launch digital banking and other online financial services in India.

Indeed, it was through investments by Ant Financial that Alibaba first became associated with Paytm. It’s not a huge surprise, then, to see that SoftBank — often a co-investor — is also spreading its influence across the Paytm business. After all, Alibaba needs all the help it can get to battle Amazon directly in India.

82Labs raises $8M to create a better hangover recovery drink

While taking some time off to travel before his next gig, Sisun Lee spent a lot of time in Korea — where he found himself drinking alcohol pretty much every night and then getting rolling the next morning, regardless of hangover status.

He also found that there were popular local herbal hangover drinks that everyone kept raving about. So he brought a bunch of them back to the U.S., handed them out to friends, and generally got interested in the drink as a thought experiment. After reaching out to scientists in academia about the herbal drinks and finding no one had really commercialized it into a product in the U.S. — and that there might actually be something behind the idea — he decided to start 82Labs and roll out the Morning Recovery drink. The startup has also raised $8 million in new financing from Altos Ventures, Slow Ventures, Strong Ventures and Thunder Road Capital.

“My friends would go to work the next day and they would swear by these hangover drinks with an herbal base,” Lee said. “In many ways that was almost when I was first inspired by it. That was at the back of my head. It turned out it was a massive market, it wasn’t one major brand — all the CPG companies had their own brand. It’s like the energy drink market. I did some research, and [people in academia] might be really passionate about something, and give you this conviction that this is the next big thing, but they wouldn’t commercialize it. They didn’t know how to get going.”

The drink is based on a flavonoid component of popular herbal medicines called DHM. The original concept for the drink was also based on research on DHM from USC, where Lee had gotten in touch with the scientists working on it to see if the idea was actually worth pursuing. That’s then bottled with other components like vitamins, electrolytes, milk thistle and some others which are known to have some detoxifying components. 82Labs initially launched in August, but at the time was literally handing out white powder in little bags — something Lee wasn’t particularly thrilled about. But as more and more interest came in after handing it out to area friends (and product managers) throughout the course of an unscientific experiment, they decided to roll with it and try to turn it into the kind of market you’d find abroad.

Lee and his friends decided to create a website to start sending it out for free for anyone who was interested in signing up. They made a few hundred bottles, gave it a flavor, and put a sign-up sheet online where they would ship it to you. Naturally, however, this is Silicon Valley, so the site ended up going viral and they got so many requests that they needed to figure out what to do next because larger bottling orders came in the tens of thousands. After some work figuring out how they could actually get it to market abiding by rules and regulations by the FDA, the team ended up making an Indiegogo campaign, which raised more than $250,000

“Because of our margins, every user we onboard is profit we generate,” Lee. “But we’ve had to learn a lot really quickly. The big thing for us last year was a big production mistake and we were always supply constrained every order. Sometimes we had compliance issues, quality issues, or mistakes on timeline. everything has been around putting out fires and making sure customers are happy, or giving them refunds December was the first month we had inventory and started to sell during holiday season when people are drinking a lot. We really never had time to think and go, “holy crap, what are we actually doing, what’s the goal here, what’s the mission here.”

Lee said that while Morning Recovery, which costs $30 for a six-pack of the 3.4-ounce drink, is their first drink they don’t want to just stop there. After all, getting a successful beverage to market — even if it turns out there’s plenty of work to do on the science side — requires getting into retail outlets and into the hands of consumers. But if that’s successful, that could easily build a brand and help the company start thinking about the next product that they should make. That direct-to-consumer approach has been increasingly popular amid the success of companies like Dollar Shave Club and others.

But that also means that 82Labs will likely face a lot of challenges, especially if it starts to get traction and larger companies start to take notice of it. Since the market is popular internationally — Lee says it’s a few hundred million dollars annually in countries like Korea — it wouldn’t take much for a consumer packaged goods company with beverage experience to try to produce something similar. So the goal will be to build up enough traction before that happens in order to continue growing.

“If big companies take notice, while they can’t make the exact same product as us, I’m sure they can figure something out,”  Lee said. “We have the advantage of a couple months — once we get to at a threshold in revenue companies will probably notice us. We thought we could keep growing slowly, but if any of these pharmaceutical companies or CPG companies do something, we’re gonna be crushed. Or, we thought we would raise money to front-load expansion purely on growth.”

Singapore says Uber-Grab deal may violate competition laws

Uber’s exit from Southeast Asia is under scrutiny from regulators in Singapore who believe that Grab’s purchase of the U.S. firm’s business in the region may violate competition laws.

Singapore-based Grab, Uber’s chief rival in the region, announced the acquisition of Uber’s Southeast Asian business on Monday. In return, Uber is taking 27.5 percent of the Grab business, which is valued at over $6 billion, in a move that appears to be a win for both parties.

Grab plans to shutter the Uber app in less than two weeks and migrate passengers and drivers to its services. It will also integrate Uber Eats into its nascent food delivery service.

The coming together has already concerned consumers, who believe that prices may rise without two companies competeting head-to-head, and now the Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) has announced that it is looking into the deal.

The organization said it has “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the deal may fall foul of section 54 of Singapore’s Competition Act.

It added:

CCS is generally of the view that competition concerns are unlikely to arise in a merger situation unless:

The merged entity has/will have a market share of 40 percent or more; or
The merged entity has/will have a market share of between 20 percent to 40 percent and the post-merger combined market share of the three largest firms is 70 percent or more.

That might make the deal a little tricky to explain for Grab, which claims over 90 million downloads and more than five million drivers and agents for its transportation and fintech services.

In a first for Singapore, the CCS said it has proposed an Interim Measures Directions (IMD) that requires both Grab and Uber to “maintain pre-transaction independent pricing, pricing policies and product options.” The commission also directed Grab to not take confidential information from Uber nor lock Uber drivers into driving for Grab.

The commision defines the space not as ride-hailing — where Grab would appear to hold a significantly dominant position by acquiring Uber’s business — but instead as “chauffeured personal point-to-point transport passenger and booking services.”

In that respect, taxi companies in Singapore — which allow booking by SMS and phone call, and also offer ride-hailing apps in some cases — may be considered competition which might water down Grab’s marketshare. Likewise, Grab’s case may be helped by Singapore carpooling service Ryde’s plan to add private car services in an effort to fill some of the gap post-Uber.

Lim Kell Jay, head of Grab Singapore, argued in a statement that the deal with Uber allows consumers a choice against “the dominant taxi industry” and that Grab has already committed to freezing its prices. He added that Grab would work with the CCS and other authorities over the deal as required.

Five years ago, consumers were not able to flag or book taxis easily as supply was a problem. Grab innovated to improve the point-to-point transport within the overall transportation industry, particularly the availability and quality of both taxi and car services. Improving services for commuters and drivers will always be our priority, and we urge the government to allow us to freely compete and complement the dominant taxi business. To address consumer concerns, we have voluntarily committed to maintaining our fare structure and will not increase base fares. This is a commitment we are prepared to give the CCS, and to the public. We have and will continue to work with the CCS, LTA and other relevant authorities, and will propose measures to reassure the CCS, our driver-partners and consumers.

Grab has conducted its comprehensive due diligence and legal analysis with its advisers before entering into and concluding the transaction. We had engaged with the CCS prior to signing and continue to do so. Even though not required by the law, we have informed the CCS that we are making a voluntary notification no later than 16 April 2018 to continue to cooperate and engage with the CCS.

The CCS said it has the power to unwind or modify a deal if it sees that its completion will substantially weaken competition, but it is unclear what that might mean for a regional business like Grab.

Grab and Uber operate in eight markets in Southeast Asia, but Singapore — which is where Grab is headquartered and registered as a business — is the first country where a competitive agency is pouring over the deal.

The US IPO market just had the best quarter in three years

The U.S. IPO market had its best quarter by proceeds in three years, according to the IPO research company Renaissance Capital.

That kind of momentum has seemingly set the stage for some big names in tech to march onto the public market in the second quarter.

Forty-three companies raised a collective $15.6 billion through their IPOs, says Renaissance, though not all were tech deals. One was the IPO of security company ADT, which had been taken private in early 2016 in a $6.9 billion leveraged buyout by the private equity group Apollo Global Management. As MarketWatch noted at the time of ADT’s January IPO, Apollo continues to own a majority of the company’s shares, meaning it’s a “controlled company” where Apollo is still basically in charge.

Another big, non-tech IPO was that of Hudson, operator of the Hudson “travel essentials” and bookstores found at airports across the U.S. and Canada. Hudson is also a controlled company that remains majority owned by a parent company, Dufry AG of Switzerland. In fact, Dufry earmarked all the proceeds from Hudson’s IPO ($750 million) to pay down its own debt.

Neither of their IPOs performed terribly well. Hudson priced at the low end of its proposed range and its shares started to sink almost immediately. ADT’s shares are also trading below their offering price.

As Renaissance notes, three companies that went public and performed much better are the biotechs Menlo Therapeutics and ARMO BioSciences, and the cybersecurity company Zcaler.

Menlo is a seven-year-old, Redwood City, Calif.-based drug developer focused on severe skin itching and chronic cough, and demand for its shares was such that it increased its proposed IPO terms from offering 5.7 million shares at $14 to $16, to offering 6.5 million shares at $16 to $17. Those shares are now trading at roughly $37.

ARMO BioSciences is a four-year-old, Redwood City-based late-stage immuno-oncology company. And it similarly priced its shares above their initial range, owing to demand. The original idea was to sell 6.7 million shares at between $14 and $16; it wound up selling 7.5 million shares at $17. Today, those shares are also trading at around $37.

Both companies went public in January. Meanwhile, Zcaler, a nearly 11-year-old, San Jose, Calif.-based security startup that confidentially filed for an IPO last year, started trading less than two weeks ago at $27.50 per share. Its shares are trading at around the same point as of this writing.

Indeed, biotechs and other tech companies led deal flow, says Renaissance, with 13 and 10 IPOs being staged, respectively.

Some of them were China-based companies, like the video streaming platform iQIYI, which raised a whopping $2.3 billion in a sale of American depositary shares.

The market also had a taste of its first, long-awaited tech company, when the cloud-storage firm Dropbox finally IPO’d last week. It was everything its private investors could have hoped for, too. After selling 36 million shares at $21 apiece last Thursday night, its shares soared 36 percent in their first day of trading last Friday.

Dropbox may have been helped along by its investment bankers (they have a way of making these things pop). Either way, if its performance holds up, we can probably expect more splashy debuts in very short order.

Already on deck, of course, is the music streaming service Spotify. The company has filed to sell shares on the public markets this coming Tuesday, April 3.