Image: Abhishek Chinnappa / Reuters
In less than nine months since Amazon.com Inc. launched its Prime Video service in India, Nitesh Kripalani, the head of the business has quit. Amazon has already named an interim head, according to a company spokesperson in India.
“Amazon confirms that Nitesh Kripalani who is leading Amazon Prime Video in India, has decided to move on from Amazon due to personal reasons. Nitesh helped build the team and deliver a great experience to our customers. We wish Nitesh the best in his future endeavors,” a company spokesperson said in an email to Forbes India on Friday.
“We are currently looking to fill this position and will let you know as soon as we have something to announce. In the interim, Vijay Subramaniam, Director, Content for Prime Video India has stepped in to serve as his replacement till a suitable replacement can be found. We will ensure a smooth transition while we search for his replacement,” the spokesperson added in the statement.
Kripalani (36) has previously worked at British Telecom and Sony Pictures. He is to remain on the rolls of Amazon India till November, but will take a sabbatical after August 14.
While video is immensely popular in India, reflected in the massive success of Google’s free Youtube service, which makes money with ads, Amazon’s Prime Video service is among the first subscription video-on-demand services in the country that is succeeding at scale.
True to Amazon’s longstanding practice of prices so low that it often loses money over fairly long periods, but destroys competition as it builds up a large customer base, Prime Video is offered at Rs. 499 a year. 21st Century Fox’s Hotstar subscription currently costs Rs. 199 a month and Netflix’s cheapest plan costs Rs. 500 per month.
Further, Amazon’s subcription fee includes access to its other popular benefits as well, such as free delivery for millions of products that qualify for Prime or the ‘Fulfilled-by-Amazon’ service. Amazon introduced its Prime service about a year ago, and company executives, including Kripalani, have said that the introduction of the video service, in December 2016, boosted subscription significantly.
Today one in three orders at Amazon is a Prime order, and Amazon included the Indian market in the third edition of its global Prime Day sale event, which was held on July 10 and 11. In the weeks and days leading up to the sale, Amazon saw a big jump in people signing up for the subscription and sale itself saw large spikes in purchases of various items over their regular-day shipments, the company said in recent press releases.
The prime services, both on the ecommerce front, and with the subscription video, are helping Amazon rake in customers as it fights for the dominance of the Indian online retail market with Bengaluru rival Flipkart, which has just announced a $2.5 billion investment from Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.