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Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal wants to bring old friends back to take on Amazon

Binny Bansal, CEO, Flipkart

Binny Bansal, CEO, Flipkart

Binny Bansal, the Flipkart co-founder who took over as the company’s CEO five months ago, is bringing back some of his trusted lieutenants from the past to revive the e-commerce giant’s fortunes and fend off the growing competition from US-based Amazon.

As part of this strategy to power up the leadership team, Kalyan Krishnamurthy has joined back Flipkart from Tiger Global as its head of categories. Krishnamurthy, whose reappointment was first reported by Business Standard, will report directly to Bansal.

Krishnamurthy first joined Flipkart in 2013 and held the roles of interim chief financial officer initially and categories head thereafter during his stint that ended in November 2014. He then joined Tiger Global, the largest investor in Flipkart, as a managing director.

Meanwhile, Mint reported that one of the main motives behind Flipkart’s acquisition of mobile payments company PhonePe was to bring its founders Sameer Nigam and Rahul Chari, former Flipkart employees, back to the company.

Flipkart acquired PhonePe, which was building a payments solution based on the Unified Payments Interface, an initiative of the National Payments Corporation of India, in April. Media reports pegged the deal value to be between $10 million and $20 million.

Nigam and Chari had earlier founded Mallers Inc (Mime360), a B2B platform targeted at the music industry. Mime360 was acquired by Flipkart in 2011. The duo were senior tech leaders at Flipkart before they quit the company last year.

Citing two people familiar with the development that it didn’t name, the Mint report said Flipkart also wanted to bring back Vaibhav Gupta, a former senior finance executive at the company. However, Gupta chose to launch his own venture with two other Flipkart executives.

Email queries to Flipkart didn’t elicit any response till the time filing this article.

Flipkart recently revamped its technology leadership team, the second such restructuring this year in the tech vertical. It named engineering heard Peeyush Ranjan as group chief technology officer. It also hired former CTO of Micromax Informatics Ltd, Ashish Agrawal, as senior vice president of engineering.

The leadership changes come after top-level exits earlier this year. Chief business officer Ankit Nagori, head of its commerce platform and Myntra founder Mukesh Bansal and chief products officer Punit Soni quit in quick succession within three months after the company underwent an organisational restructure when Binny Bansal took over as the CEO.

With growing pressure to focus on profitability and cut costs, the move could also be seen as an effort to bring in a nimble organisational setup. Flipkart has also reportedly been struggling to raise fresh funds at its preferred valuations. It has also found its valuation marked down multiple times by some investors.

Though Flipkart is still the largest Indian e-commerce firm by market share, Jeff Bezos-led Amazon has steadily been gaining market share over the months, having toppled Snapdeal from its second position. Amazon, which had earlier committed $2 billion for its Indian operations, committed an additional $3 billion, signifying its aggressive intent to capture a considerable size of the Indian online retail market.

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