A bigger, bolder Flipkart

With a billion-dollar fund-raise completed, India's biggest etailer is ready for the next stage of growth

Sourav Majumdar
Published: Apr 27, 2017 06:42:26 AM IST
Updated: Apr 27, 2017 12:17:10 PM IST

A bigger, bolder Flipkart

By all accounts, Flipkart, the poster boy of India’s ecommerce and startup ecosystem, has grown up. The latest fund-raise by the country’s largest etailer, of $1.4 billion, at a valuation of $11.6 billion, comes after a long lull during which India’s ecommerce sector itself witnessed serious churn. After the heady days of stratospheric valuations being commanded by startups and investors lining up to put money in new ideas, there is a mellowing down—both from the point of view of companies and also of investors who now expect to see a path to profits. In such a scenario, even more significant than the quantum of funds it has raised is the fact that the Sachin and Binny Bansal-promoted ecommerce major has attracted marquee investors like China’s Tencent Holdings, eBay Inc and Microsoft. And that’s not all. A significant deal has been in the works where Flipkart may eventually acquire struggling rival Snapdeal, something which the latter’s key investor SoftBank is keen on. At the centre of all this is Flipkart’s recently-appointed CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy, a former executive of the etailer’s biggest investor Tiger Global, who is getting the ecommerce major ready to take its slugfest with global rival Amazon to the next level.

A bigger, bolder Flipkart
Krishnamurthy tells Forbes India’s Editor (Technology) Harichandan Arakali, who put together the cover story after speaking to multiple people within and outside the company, that the latest funding round is a “very big compliment” to Brand Flipkart.It also arms the company to roll out several new initiatives and innovations to ensure it stays ahead in the intense race for the customer’s wallet. In the process, Flipkart has become the de facto non-Amazon force behind which all others are rallying. As Technopak’s Ankur Bisen puts it, India will now see two clear ecosystems evolving, one led by Flipkart and the other by Amazon. Flipkart’s fund-raise and associated plans are also expected to help the investor community breathe easy once again, since the company is almost a proxy for the Indian ecommerce sector itself. Krishnamurthy and his mates at Flipkart are currently busy putting together a detailed game plan which will see even greater focus on new categories, innovation and technology—read Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and fintech—to ensure the best customer experience. This apart, Flipkart now sees itself as the catalyst for expanding the market and penetrating difficult customer categories. The game, in that sense, has just begun in right earnest.

Just as innovation is the theme at Flipkart, this issue also brings you the Forbes Midas List 2017, the ranking of the world’s top 100 venture capitalists, people who have put their money in some of the most innovative companies on the planet. Topping the list is Sequoia Capital’s Jim Goetz (known for his WhatsApp deal), followed by Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital (Uber), Peter Fenton of Benchmark (Docker), Steve Anderson of Baseline Ventures (Instagram) and Brian Singerman of Founders Fund who shoots up from number 36 last year to fifth place thanks to his investment in cancer drug maker Stemcentrx.

Sourav Majumdar
Editor, Forbes India

Twitter id:@TheSouravM

(This story appears in the 12 May, 2017 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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