Snapdeal-controlled digital payments platform FreeCharge has appointed Anand Sinha, co-founder and former chief executive of Sequoia Capital-backed travel entertainment startup PressPlayTV, as director of partnerships and strategic initiatives.
Sinha will lead both online and offline partnerships in addition to working on several strategic initiatives for the firm, the company said in a press statement.
Sinha founded PressPlay along with his former Zomato colleague George Abraham in December 2013. Prior to setting up PressPlay, he was national head (sales) at Zomato UAE. PressPlay raised about $3.9 million in two investment rounds from Sequoia Capital and other angel investors including Jason Hirschhorn (former co-president, MySpace), Jarett Posner (managing partner, Posner Group LLC), and Amit Bhatiani (partner, CX Partners). He left PressPlay in October this year.
FreeCharge was founded in 2010 by Kunal 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. It appointed former Obi Mobiles executive Karthik Rajeshwaran as director of strategy in October. 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 between $700 million and $1 billion. In August, VCCircle reported that Snapdeal was in talks with Chinese internet giant Tencent 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 had also 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.