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A little take, a lot more give

Also in today’s edition: Fruits of labour for Airtel and Jio; OpenAI is a wrecking ball

Good morning! We may sound repetitive, but boy, companies are really cooking up some absurd use cases for generative AI. Truecaller wanted AI to attend our calls; Zoom is going a step ahead and evoking AI to attend our work meetings as well. Founder Eric Yuan told The Verge that the company's grand plan is to let users create their digital clones that can make business decisions on their behalf during work meetings. But here's the kicker: if meetings are so low-stakes that you can send a clone of yours to call the shots, maybe the solution isn’t to engage AI, but to end the culture of unnecessary meetings altogether. We're making sense, ain’t we?

🎧 Coalition government drama. Also in today’s episode: an uprising (of sorts) against OpenAI. Tune in to SpotifyApple PodcastsAmazon MusicGoogle Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Soumya Gupta and Anup Semwal also contributed to today’s edition.

The Market Signal* 

Stocks & Economy: Asian markets rose after expectations of rate cuts by the European Central Bank and US indexes hitting a new record thanks mostly to Nvidia.

The AI chipmaker overtook Apple as the world’s second-most valued company. The market cap of both companies are $3.01 and $3 trillion, respectively, and analysts expect Nvidia to eventually overtake numero uno Microsoft as well.

Indian indices closed Wednesday with a healthy rebound as crucial allies pledged support to the new Narendra Modi-led government, placating investor fears about political instability.

The GIFT Nifty indicates a positive opening for benchmark indices.


Swings And Misses

After years of investments, Airtel and Jio are staring money in the face. Both telecom firms are likely to post higher free cash flows and record returns on capital employed this financial year. 

Airtel’s ROCE may surge to 10-19% over the next three years while Jio’s may double to 11-12%. Distant third Vi is still waiting for its fundraise to come through. 

Rest easy: These are the fruits of telcos’ labour. They spent the last decade buying spectrum, setting up towers, and rolling out first 4G, and now 5G at supremely low prices. Now Airtel and Jio don’t need to make costly investments; a planned 5G spectrum auction has been postponed a second time already. 

Pushback: Meanwhile, Reliance’s plans to offer 5G infrastructure in Ghana is under threat. Ghanian opposition parties have accused the government of rushing into a ‘sweetheart deal’ with billionaire Mukesh Ambani. 


The Researchers Who Loved And Lost OpenAI 

Business won over science at OpenAI. That’s what we’d declared when OpenAI’s chief Sam Altman, who was accused of sidelining safety for profits, returned to office after a brief ouster in November. Now, OpenAI’s jaded employees are now hinting at the same.

Daniel Kokotajlo, who was hired to keep track of AI’s progress, quit last month because he “lost confidence that OpenAI will behave responsibly." He is one of 11 current and former employees who signed an open letter on Tuesday, accusing OpenAI of a culture of recklessness and secrecy.

Accusations: AI companies are enforcing agreements that demand outgoing employees to stay silent or risk losing equity. Kokotajlo accused Microsoft of testing a version of Bing Search in India without getting the safety board’s approval; Microsoft disputed the claim. 

Demands: The letter mostly calls for ending NDA agreements and encouraging open criticism of company decisions. 


Co-operate, Conform, Coexist

That’s the new mantra for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which picked Narendra Modi as its PM candidate following a dramatic day of “what if possibilities” where leaders from the INDIA opposition bloc hinted at possible upsets. Suffice to say that few chess moves may be made in the run-up to Modi’s swearing in on June 8.

Since the NDA is led by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that does not have its own majority, critical alliance partners Chandrababu Naidu (Telugu Desam Party) and Nitish Kumar (Janata Dal United) are well-positioned to make key demands. Those include not just plum Cabinet positions, but also special statuses for their respective states, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.

The indispensability of state leaders in both the ruling alliance and the opposition will set the stage for economic policy.

The Signal

One, the Centre this time will have to contend with stronger federalism as states ramp up demands for funds or support for local businesses.

Two, there’s a possibility of churn in Modi’s BJP unless the new Centre adopts a collaborative approach with its own regional leaders. This includes more consultations for every major decision, something it wasn’t pushed to do when it bagged decisive majorities in 2014 and 2019.

The new government will also have to reallocate more resources for social welfare schemes. The BJP lost 70 votes in rural India, a clear message about the dissatisfaction over addressing hinterland distress. Post-election analyses by brokerage firms signal that this will come at the cost of capex allocation.


🤝💼: Hiring for white collar jobs increased 6% in india, led by growth in oil & gas, banking, and consumer packaged goods, a report found. 

Emptied: Lenders of edtech firm Byju’s have started bankruptcy proceedings against three of its American subsidiaries; alleging misappropriation of $533 million in loans. 

Raising: Low-cost airline Spicejet will raise $250 million in the next two months, chairman Ajay Sinha said in an industry summit. 

Tug boat: The Indian government is setting up a new public sector shipping company to cut freight business to foreign firms by a third in the next 20 years, Reuters reported. 



The number of consecutive months of record-shattering global temperatures as of May 2024. The mercury was 1.52°C above historical averages last month, which was the hottest May ever recorded. (Bloomberg)


Back to basics: WhatsApp is a pain even without spam messages by businesses. Folks who have to deal with insufferable people in group chats, or with those who track their every move (including knowing when you’ve read their message) would know. Behold, then, the good old SMS. Well, not exactly SMS, but RCS or Rich Communication Services. The newfangled iteration of basic messaging, RCS support, will finally be offered by Apple this year, meaning the messaging experience between Android and iOS devices will finally be seamless. Mint Lounge makes the case for barebones texting over messaging apps, and not without reason. Poland-based company SMSEagle claims that every nine out of 10 people opened their SMS messages in 2023. Tl;dr: there’s a use case beyond deleting OTPs and spam or bot messages.

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