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Flipkart mum on reported $1B fundraising plans, adds e-learning to online marketplace

Flipkart

India's largest consumer e-commerce platform Flipkart is raising around $1 billion (Rs 6,000 crore) from existing and new investors valuing the company at over $5 billion, according to The Economic Times report citing unnamed sources.

While half of the funds have come from the existing investors Tiger Global, Russian billionaire Yuri Milner's DST and Accel Partners, the other half will come from Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC and US-based investment firm T Rowe Price, it added.

Flipkart is keeping mum on the rumours which stated that the deal is to be made public as early as within the next fortnight.

Flipkart spokesperson did not respond to an email query and repeated calls on the proposed funding, which would take the total money raised by the firm to around $1.75 billion.

In May this year, the firm had raised $210 million led by DST Global. Prior to that, it had raised $160 million in another tranche of its fifth round of funding from new investors, including Belgium-based Sofina, US-based Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Dragoneer Investment Group and Vulcan Capital (founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen), along with participation from existing investor Tiger Global. Flipkart Pvt Ltd, a Singapore-based holding firm, had previously raised $200 million from existing investors Naspers Group, Accel Partners, ICONIQ Capital, and Tiger Global in the first tranche of the group's fifth round of external funding.

Entering newer categories

In the meantime, the firm is adding new verticals for its e-commerce marketplace and just entered services space with the launch of the e-learning category with over 1,900 products that include e-learning material, certification courses and online tests catering to schools and colleges students besides some competitive exams taking its offering to over 15 million products across 70 categories.

This follows a similar move by Snapdeal early this year.

"Both eBooks and digital coursework are seeing increasing adoption and Flipkart is well positioned to service the need," Nipun Mehra, senior director - retail, Flipkart, said. The firm has partnered with Career Launcher, Edurite, EduKart, Merit Nation, TCY Online and Practice Guru for the material.

Flipkart has also launched a subscription service focused on students called Flipkart Students to enable them to get discounts on products as well as access to its subscription service Flipkart First.

FlipkartThe service is currently available across categories like books, mobile accessories, mobiles, footwear, clothing, health & beauty, accessories like bags, wallets, belts and sunglasses. To avail the service, students are required to send a scanned image of their student ID card and details like phone number, age and expected month/year of graduation to Flipkart.

Amazon offers a similar scheme on its UK and US portal under Amazon Student. As part of the service, the company offers free two-day shipping, exclusive offers, discounted Kindle tablets, apart from movie & music streaming services.

Meanwhile, the company has shared that its registered user base has moved to 18 million with daily visits of 3.5 million. Its technology enables 5 million shipments per month and the company has a team strength of 13,000.

The firm has also disclosed that it has a total of 3,000 sellers or vendors on its marketplace. Flipkart has on-boarded 50 sellers who were selling books, media and consumer electronics, when it opened its site to others one year ago.

Flipkart competes with international giants like Amazon.in and eBay and homegrown competitor Snapdeal. Snapdeal had raised $100 million (Rs 600 crore) in May from Temasek, BlackRock Inc and Premji Invests.

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