One of the Bansals quits Flipkart!
One less Bansal at Flipkart as Myntra's Mukesh Bansal quits; senior executive Ankit Nagori to also leave.
Mukesh Bansal has resigned as head of commerce and advertising business at Flipkart, just weeks after a top-level restructuring that resulted in cofounder Binny Bansal's elevation as the CEO of India's largest online retailer.
Chief Business Officer Ankit Nagori, too, has resigned. Mukesh, 40, will continue with Flipkart until the end of March, while Nagori will stay on for three months. "Mukesh will continue to be an adviser to Flipkart and Myntra, besides me and Sachin (Bansal) personally" said Binny Bansal. "He has been one of the best leaders that I have had the privilege to work with." Mukesh Bansal joined Bengaluru-based Flipkart when it acquired his fashion portal Myntra for an estimated $375 million in May 2014. Binny Bansal will now directly oversee the commerce and advertising platforms.
Mukesh Bansal, whose rise in Flipkart was swift — within a year, he was given charge of the fashion and electronics businesses for Flipkart as well as marketing — was rumoured to be in the reckoning for the job of CEO.
"Mukesh will continue to be an adviser to Flipkart and Myntra, besides me and Sachin personally. He has been one of the best leaders that I have had the privilege to work with," Binny Bansal told ET. Mukesh Bansal said his resignation was under discussion for a while and is "part of the restructuring that happened in January".
The high-profile exits are the latest in a series of departures of senior executives from Flipkart, which sold goods worth $4 billion in 2014-15 and expects to triple the sum this financial year. The resignations come amid efforts by Flipkart to raise a fresh round of funding while defending valuation.
According to people close to Flipkart, the decision to elevate Binny Bansal was made at the behest of Tiger Global, the largest investor in Flipkart. Tiger was also an investor in Myntra. "There was not room for more than one person."
Mukesh's departure is the most high-profile exit yet for Flipkart, which is locked in a fierce rivalry with Amazon and Snapdeal for dominance in India's online retail industry.
A graduate of IIT-Kanpur, he was instrumental in hiring top talent from Silicon Valley and was at one time rumoured to be in contention for the job of CEO. "Things are all settled at Flipkart now and the the top," said one of the sources, requesting anonymity. "Net net this was not the ideal way to leverage Mukesh and it is unfortunate we can't have both (Mukesh Bansal and Binny Bansal)."
Steep discounts have been the key to the rapid growth of online retailers in India, but with global financial markets coming under pressure, investors are beginning to question the value of a model which emphasises growth over profitability. Tiger Global, one of the most prolific investors in India, is among those which has decided to rethink its aggressive investment strategy in the country Flipkart is being squeezed by competition from rivals whose access to money comes from either strategic investors or off the balance sheet.
On the one hand there is Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos has promised to invest $5 billion in India, and on the other there is Snapdeal, which counts Japan's SoftBank and China's Alibaba as investors. Investors have poured more than $3 billion into Flipkart and own at least 80% of the company, which is now registered in Singapore. "Today, given where they are, given the kind of mass and momentum that they have, (it) surprises me," said G Sabarinathan, chairman of the NS Raghavan Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at the Indian Institute of Management in Bengaluru.
Chief Product Officer Punit Soni has been widely rumoured to be leaving the company, but Binny Bansal said his new role is "under discussion". Nagori, an IIT-Guwahati alumnus who its the chief business officer, plans to start his own company in the sports talent development space — a field he is passionate about. He is likely to be backed by Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal.