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Over the next five to seven years, it will buy equity stakes in domestic firms and invest in tech infrastructure like data centres. The fund will focus on internet access, particularly in local languages; new products and services tailored to the market; helping businesses get online; and using “technology and AI for social good” in fields like health, education and agriculture. (Economic Times, The Logic)

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Talking point: U.S. tech giants have launched a variety of connectivity-improving programs in India over the last few years, aiming to add millions of internet users who they can eventually turn into paying customers or ad targets. They’re also building service layers through domestically tailored payment apps, partnerships with local wireless carriers and stakes in complementary apps that can be linked to their own products. Google’s deals include leading a US$12-million investment round for delivery service Dunzo in December 2017 and an undisclosed Series C for fashion startup Fynd in March 2018.

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The big-box giant is reportedly set to release Walmart Plus, a subscription service that will cost US$98 a year and will include same-day delivery, Walmart fuel discounts and early access to promotions. Walmart declined to comment. (Recode)

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Talking point: Recode reported in February the company was originally planning to launch the service late March or April, but delayed it due to the pandemic. While Walmart has grown its e-commerce business, reporting online sales growth of 37 per cent in 2019, it continues to lag behind Amazon, which counts over 150 million members for its US$119 per year Prime service. Walmart’s online sales surged 74 per cent in the first quarter this year, partially due to pandemic-driven demand for online purchases.

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Approved merchants will be able to list products on Walmart.com using Shopify’s e-commerce software. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Shopify already has similar integrations with other major marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. Walmart’s store has a similar third-party seller model, charging listing fees and offering services like fulfillment. Shopify’s stock closed up 8.46 per cent following news of the partnership, which some coverage is framing as a challenge to Amazon. But the impact will likely be small for both firms, at least at first. Walmart is focusing on U.S. Shopify sellers, and expects to add 1,200 by the end of the year. Shopify started the year with over half a million U.S. merchants.

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Iannone, who was most recently COO of Walmart e-commerce, will start the top job at eBay on April 27. (The Logic)

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Talking point: Iannone’s appointment follows the September 2019 outster of then-CEO Devin Wenig, who clashed repeatedly with activist investors Elliott Management and Starboard Value. They wanted eBay to do more to catch up with Amazon in e-commerce, and the firm is increasingly doing what the activists—who have appointed six board members between them—want. EBay has already sold StubHub for US$4.05 billion and is looking at offers for its classified ads business. Jesse Cohn, an Elliot partner and eBay board member, called Iannone’s appointment a “huge positive” for the firm.