Flipkart head says down-cycle in internet sector, will bounce back

Flipkart, the country’s largest e-commerce company, said it was capitalised well and not looking for now to raise funds.

It also said investment cycles have bumps and internet-based sectors were undergoing one. “Overall, these are financial cycles that happen in the whole world. I think the internet sector itself is going through a down cycle, but as the positive cycles don’t last for ever, the down cycle also don’t last for ever,” said Sachin Bansal, chairman, here on Wednesday.
He’d met the industry minister of Karnataka to discuss business plans and this city’s infrastructure issues.

Bansal moved in January from an operational role to mentoring of seniors at Flipkart, allowing co-founder Binny Bansal to take the operational role as chief executive. Flipkart faces intense competition from larger global rival Amazon and local rival Snapdeal, which is backed by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

It was in talks to raise fresh funds but got stuck after mutual funds such as Morgan Stanley and T Rowe Price marked down the worth of investments in the company. At its peak, Flipkart was valued at $15.2 billion; it is now estimated to be $10 bn.

On his new role, Bansal said he’d become more external-focused, working with the government and building partnerships. “I’m very much involved in the day to day operations as well. I’m also looking after mentoring of senior leaders in the company, as well as creating a positive eco-system around Flipkart, and some new partnerships that you will hopefully see in the coming days,” he said.

Flipkart has seen several senior executives exit since January, after Binny Bansal took charge, such as Mukesh Bansal, Ankit Nagori and Punit Soni. Binny Bansal has focused on improving efficiency, cutting costs and shedding jobs, to bring the business to profitable levels. And, shifted the business focus to customer satisfaction, a measure that helped build the company before it is considered to have lost track to buy customers through gross merchandise value.

Sachin Bansal said the company would expand its team of 5,000 in Bengaluru, due to growth in business.


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