Alibaba’s Financial Affiliate Takes 25% Stake In India’s One97, Owner Of Paytm

Ant Financial Services Group, an Alibaba Group affiliate, announced today that it will take a 25 percent stake in India’s One97 Communications as part of a strategic agreement. Ant Financial runs Alipay, China’s largest online payment service, while One97 oversees Paytm, India’s leading mobile payment platform.

The companies did not disclose how much the stake in One97 is worth, but it represents Ant Financial’s first investment in India.

Alipay Wallet, Ant Financial’s mobile payment app, currently claims 190 million users, while Paytm says it has more than 23 million users.

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As It Seeks New Regulations In NY, Airbnb Estimates It Would Collect $65 Million In Taxes There

Airbnb has been trying to win over regulators and lawmakers in New York by pledging to crack down on illegal hotel operations and collect taxes from rentals that happen on its platform. In an effort to get new regulations passed to legitimize its service in NY, the company put an estimate of just how much the city and state is missing out on by not allowing it to collect taxes there.

In a letter to the NY State Legislature and NY City Council today, Airbnb global policy chief David Hantman estimated that Airbnb could collect as much as $65 million in hotel occupancy taxes this year, and that number would only increase over time.

In fact, that number has already grown rapidly — from $21 million that Airbnb had estimated it would contribute in taxes to New York just nine months ago.

There’s just one catch: Before Airbnb can begin collecting and remitting those taxes, the state and local governments in New York would first need to create a new legal framework for it to do so. Airbnb is hoping New York lawmakers will follow those in San Francisco and Portland in that regard by creating regulations that make renting out your home legal in that market.

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“Native Commerce” Platform Okanjo Raises $1.7 Million

A Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based startup called Okanjo, which offers publishers an alternative to native advertising with what it calls “native commerce,” has raised $1.7 million in new funding in a follow-on round from local angel investors, bringing the company’s total raise to date to $3.2 million. The additional funding will be used in part to launch Okanjo’s product, an e-commerce-enabled ad solution that lets brands sell products or offers directly on a third-party website – like the website for a local newspaper, for example.

Okanjo President Brendon Thomas described what this could look like from an end user perspective:

“You could be reading an article about the Green Bay Packers, and you could see related Packers’ merchandise embedded within that article, under the brand of that news site, which you could then purchase without leaving the site,” he says.

okanjo-ipad

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It’s Time We Ditched the Term ‘Cart’ in Online Shopping

For as long as any of us can remember, we have appropriated offline metaphors to describe their online equivalents. In the Web 1.0 era, putting real-life experiences directly online with little modification led to some of the greatest venture flops in history.

Today, when we talk about shopping online, the experience not surprisingly still centers around “the cart.” The shopping cart is an antiquated metaphor. It is time to ditch the cart. Frictionless, in-stream shopping is the holy grail.

Did you know that on average, 68 percent of peoplewho add something to an online shopping cart do not follow through to actually purchase that item? This phenomenon is called “cart abandonment” and it is the scourge of online retail.

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Snapdeal, One Of India’s Leading E-commerce Sites, Acquires Wishpicker To Deliver Better Product Recommendations

Snapdeal, one of India’s largest e-commerce businesses, has acquired Wishpicker, a tech platform that uses machine learning to deliver recommendations for gift purchases. The deal’s financial terms were undisclosed.

The company says this is the fifth acquisition it has made so far. Back in April, the company, whose competitors include Amazon India and Flipkart, announced that it had purchased Doozton.

Since folded into Snapdeal’s main site, Dootzon, a fashion products discovery site, was also geared toward matching shoppers with products they are likely to purchase. Other companies Snapdeal has acquired include group buying site Grabbon in 2010; sports retailer esportsbuy.com in 2012; and Shopo.in, a marketplace for handmade items, in 2013.

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Zazzle Buys Boundless Network As It Battles Teespring For Democratized E-Commerce

Want to sell T-shirts with your face on them, or get your employees shirts with your company name? Zazzle is fighting newcomer Teespring for your business, and it just got some more ammunition. Yesterday, personalized product maker and marketplace Zazzle acquired Boundless Network, a startup that lets companies save money on big branded product orders.

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Instacart Is Raising North Of $100 Million At A $2 Billion Valuation

Instacart, the home grocery delivery service that launched back in 2012, is close to raising a massive Series C round of funding north of $100 million, according to sources. The raise will value the startup at $2 billion, or more than quadruple the $400 million valuation of its Series B financing from June.

Including this round, Instacart has raised a total of $154.8 million with other investors that include Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia, Khosla Ventures, Canaan Partners, Y Combinator boss Sam Altman and Box founder Aaron Levie.

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