Pranav Balakrishnan

Staff writer, The Ken • India Edition

Pranav writes about the business of moving people and things around, i.e, mobility and e-commerce. Over the past two years, he has written about Ola, Tesla, Flipkart, Amazon, and the increasing role played by Reliance Industries in the Indian technology story. Pranav joined The Ken from Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, specialising in business journalism.

46 Articles published

Top Comments by Pranav Balakrishnan

The hazards of Ola Electric's need for speed

Hi Saayon. The reason why I asked for a test drive is to check if all the promised features were there. In my limited time with the scooter, I could see that the navigation took time to load and the dark mode feature was not working. I left it to the experts- automotive journalists- to give the verdict on the scooter. Links are mentioned in the article and they have said that the scooter is a work in progress. What we have is a reliable set of sources who worked with the company and on the scooter, and they have given the right information to us in the past. Even before the reviews were out I got information from this set of sources that many of the promised features were not there. I asked Ola these questions and the company did not deny it. Whichever information I am not sure of, I validate with other independent sources. This is how journalists work.

Pranav Balakrishnan

The hazards of Ola Electric's need for speed

Hi Bharat. To your first question, yes. Most startups do work with aggressive timelines. But in Ola's case, this method has turned counter-productive as I mentioned in the article. Executives started lying to their managers to escape the sack. Which in turn affects the product and expected timelines. I am not sure about the second question. There will be processes in place. Some of the errors will only show up through rigorous testing, not on the factory floor. My sources are divided on whether enough testing has been done. Some believe EVs are different and problems can be solved through software updates. There are others who believe that they are not sure how the battery itself will behave in hotter conditions and that could be a hardware problem. All we know is that the quality assurance head was asked to leave last week. To your last question, yes. The company is likely to succeed given some time. Many believe we are already at the turning point because Ola's ambitions spooked others in the traditional automotive to accelerate their EV plans.

Pranav Balakrishnan

Amazon Prime Video’s attempt to become the everything store for Indian streaming

Cricket attracts the largest audience, Dharmaraju. Amid lockdown, when most people are stuck at home, cable TV's contribution to live cricket saw a rise and OTT's share declined. But it is still the prime property in streaming and got 6.8 million viewers for the opening match of the IPL. It will only increase as lockdown lifts and people would want to watch matches on the go. But Disney is not a company that is geared towards sports as such. It is doing some rejigs to its sports properties and how it would be telecasted. Hope this helps. https://www.insidesport.co/big-announcement-by-disney-ready-to-to-shut-down-100-cable-channels-including-star-sports-in-se-asia/

Pranav Balakrishnan

Flipkart’s winding path back on the straight and narrow

Hi Neeraj, I agree that the "credibility issue" can be sorted and it is just a matter of time. Like you said the government should strike a balance in the regulations and that is why it is taking so long to draft. It should not be so stringent that would force the platforms to pack up and leave. That would be a huge loss of face for the government at a time when unemployment is high. The current model- fast & free delivery and products at cheap prices- won't be sustainable if the government forces platforms to exist as a pure marketplace. If the regulation is highly skewed towards retailers, then the losses will far outweigh the gains.

Pranav Balakrishnan

Uber, Ola, Rapido—the 3 wheels of India's post-Covid auto race

Hi Yatish, Kunal Khatter in the story said that the ticket size for a bike taxi is Rs 40 with an Rs 8 commission, whereas it is Rs 80 for an auto fare with Rs 16 commission. Combining that with the average distance in the chart would give you: Bike taxi- 40 minus 8= Rs 32/2.5= Rs 12.8 per kilomter Auto taxi- 80 minus 16= Rs 64/4= Rs 16 per kilometer The challenge in unit economics arises when competitors provide discounts and incentives to both drivers and riders. Ola barely had any competition pre-2019 which helped them make the category profitable.

Pranav Balakrishnan

The speed breakers in Ola Electric's path to 10 million scooters a year

My feeling is that pricing is going to be the key to the scooter's success. Both Vespa and Ather have that X factor in the scooter market. Ola's scooter also seems to have that, at least in appearance. A source quoted in the story did say that the primary reason the acquisition was made was because of the scooter's appearance. If Ola can offer similar or better specs compared to Ather and manage to undercut Ather and Vespa's price through scaling, then Ola may have a winner here. Europe and LATAM are going to be important markets for Ola for exports.

Pranav Balakrishnan

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