Snapdeal-controlled digital payments platform FreeCharge has appointed former Obi Mobiles executive Karthik Rajeshwaran as director (strategy).
Rajeshwaran will use his expertise to usher-in consumer centric innovations to expand revenue across new business opportunities, Freecharge said in a press statement on Wednesday.
Prior to his appointment at Freecharge, Karthik led global marketing and growth at Obi Worldphone, a San Francisco-based handset maker, where he was responsible for launching smartphones and crafting brand communication plans across Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and select Middle Eastern countries. An alumni of Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow, Karthik began his career at Hindustan Unilever where he worked for nearly four years before moving to Obi Mobiles.
The appointment comes following a top-level organisational rejig in May when FreeCharge named Govind Rajan as the company’s CEO and Kunal Shah its chairman. Rajan was the chief operating officer while Shah was the CEO before the restructuring.
Freecharge was founded in 2010 by Shah and Sandeep Tandon and was acquired by Snapdeal in April 2015. The deal value has not been disclosed but media reports estimated it at $300-400 million.
The firm has seen a number of hires in the past few months. In April 2016, FreeCharge hired former Amazon India executive Fareed Jawad as vice president of payments and principal product architect. In December 2015, the firm appointed former Airtel executive Anshul Kheterpal as its chief financial officer, and in September of the same year, its founding member Sudeep Tandon rejoined the company as the chief business officer.
According to a recent report by The Economic Times, Japanese internet conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp is reportedly in talks to invest between $150 and $200 million in FreeCharge. The investment, which also involves some investment banks such as J P Morgan, could take FreeCharge’s valuation to $700 million-$1 billion. In August, VCCircle reported that Chinese internet giant Tencent was in talks to raise more than $150 million and would pick 10-15% stake in FreeCharge. Tencent’s interest in FreeCharge could be part of a strategy by the Chinese firm to counter the alliance of Alipay and Paytm and expand its presence in India’s consumer internet market, sources had told VCCircle.
VCCircle also had reported earlier that Snapdeal was in discussions with potential investors including Foxconn to sell stakes in FreeCharge, and that the Taiwanese contract electronics manufacturer could end up buying as much as a 26% stake in the payments arm.
Foxconn is already an investor in Snapdeal and had come in when the e-tailer raised $500 million in a round that also involved Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.