Snapdeal staffers display steadfastness in the face of adversity

As investors haggle over its price, many employees at Snapdeal continue to focus on a full day’s work to make the online shopping place incrementally easier for consumers to use

Harichandan Arakali
Updated: Jun 6, 2017 11:55:27 AM UTC

I'm the Technology Editor at Forbes India and I love writing about all things tech. Explaining the big picture, where tech meets business and society, is what drives me. I don't get to do that every day, but I live for those well-crafted stories, written simply, sans jargon.

Photo: Adnan Abidi / Reuters
Photo: Adnan Abidi / Reuters

Imagine you’re working for a company that you think everyone else is prepared to write off. A larger rival has just won a big victory in the market, and the founders of the startup where you work admit that they painted themselves into a corner.

The staff at Snapdeal, Delhi’s Jasper Infotech Private Ltd’s online shopping site, find themselves in that unenviable position. Some were sacked, others have left, including some seniors, but some others seem to have remained steadfast.

Take a look at Thursday’s small announcement by Snapdeal on improvements made to their mobile app on the Android platform. There is nothing vague about the improvements, and each one is relevant. For instance, content is made easier to consume — in 60 seconds, typically, important in the era of Snapchat and ephemeral attention spans.

Recommendations on products are improved too, says CTO Rajiv Mangla, using software algorithms that tap into users’ past search and purchase behaviour. Last month, Mangla announced some improvements in the ecommerce company’s supply chain operations as well.

The initiative, called open logistics platform, will help courier partners working with Snapdeal better manage their own operations by tapping into the company’s logistics management system, he said in a press release.

Snapdeal is widely believed to be on the block, with its largest investor, Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, negotiating a deal to sell it to larger rival Bengaluru’s Flipkart. As the negotiations continue, looking at the efforts at Snapdeal, one can conclude they aren’t very different from what Flipkart has done, barring a few mistakes that have come back to prove just too costly.

For instance, Snapdeal is said to have outbid Paypal in purchasing payments tech company Freecharge in a deal valued at some $400 million. Today, media reports suggest that a deal to shop Snapdeal to Flipkart could include a huge discount on Freecharge. With SoftBank also rumoured to be in talks to invest a large sum in Paytm, India’s largest payments provider, Freecharge’s future is uncertain.

For that matter, the future of Snapdeal itself is uncertain and that is why it is commendable that founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal have made a commitment to employees to look out for their interests in the eventuality of some deal. That may not make a difference to those who were sacked, but India’s startup scene will likely bounce back sooner rather than later to easily absorb talented workers.

It is equally salute-worthy that there are many staff who continue to walk into Snapdeal day after day, expecting to focus on their work, in the face of all the uncertainty over which they have no control. Ask any founder of a new-age startup in India, and among the top three challenges will be the employees’ approach to work. Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma told this writer last year, that this is an area where Indian startups still lag western counterparts. That is changing, and the unknown, unsung worker at Snapdeal is part of that change.

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