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FreeCharge CEO Govind Rajan quits

Govind Rajan

Govind Rajan

FreeCharge chief executive officer Govind Rajan has resigned from the company just nine months after he was appointed to lead the Jasper Infotech-owned digital payments subsidiary.

“It has been a unique privilege to helm FreeCharge in these exciting times of rapid growth and user-focussed innovation. I am confident that FreeCharge will achieve still greater heights under its incredibly talented team and I look forward to facilitating the transition over the next few weeks,” Rajan said.

The reasons behind Rajan’s departure are unclear, but Snapdeal has been struggling to raise anywhere between $150 million and $200 million for FreeCharge at a valuation of over $1 billion. The e-commerce firm acquired the mobile recharge platform in a $400-million stock-and-cash deal in 2015.

“Govind has brought incredible energy and focus in growing FreeCharge. I am sure he will bring the same level of passion and resolve to whatever he chooses next. I wish him the very best,” said Kunal Bahl, founder and chief executive of Snapdeal.

Going forward, former chief executive of realty portal Housing.com Jason Kothari will oversee the business operations of FreeCharge as part of his overall responsibilities of portfolio management as the chief strategy and investment officer of Snapdeal, the company said in an email response. Kothari joined Snapdeal last month after Housing.com merged with PropTiger.

Rajan joined Snapdeal in August 2015 as FreeCharge’s chief operating officer and was appointed to lead the payments platform in May last year. In his previous stints, he was the chief marketing officer at Bharti Airtel Ltd and concurrently also served as the chief executive of Airtel Money. An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, he spent the first 15 years of his professional life at Hindustan Unilever Ltd.

In the past four months, Snapdeal has seen several senior-level exits, including head of corporate development Abhishek Kumar and senior vice president and Shopo head Sandeep Komaravelly. In November last year, Vijay Ghadge, chief operating officer at Snapdeal’s in-house logistics arm Vulcan Express Pvt Ltd, had quit barely four months after joining the firm.

Besides senior-level exits, Snapdeal also plans to lay off nearly 30% of its staff in order to reduce increasing losses.

Recent media reports suggest that Snapdeal is in talks with its main investor SoftBank Group to raise fresh funds at a lower valuation, ranging between $3 billion and $4 billion. Losses at Snapdeal more than doubled to Rs 2,960 crore (around $436 million) for the financial year ended March 2016. The firm’s consolidated loss widened to Rs 3,315 crore from Rs 1,328 crore in 2014-15.

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