This weekend Flipkart Group CEO Binny Bansal shared some details on co-founder Sachin Bansal's exit in May. "Going forward, there are different things [Sachin] wants to do and I want to do, so that's the decision we took. I think it was a good time because a major investor had come in," he told Subrata Mitra, partner at venture capital firm Accel, over a fireside chat at an event on Saturday.
According to The Economic Times, Binny also acknowledged his co-founder's contribution in building Flipkart into the behemoth it is today, starting out from a 2BHK flat in Bengaluru. "Sachin played a very crucial role in building the company. He was the CEO for most of the time of the company, and his vision steered us to where we are," he reportedly told Mitra. The latter, in fact, defined Binny as the "backend guy" and Sachin as the "vision" of Flipkart.
The report added that the CEO also reminisced about how the duo decided on their venture and how they came about their respective roles in it. The IITians initially wanted to start a shopping comparison engine but eventually decided to start a shopping website because of a dearth of good online retail platforms in India over a decade ago. "In the beginning, we hadn't defined our roles. He was better at doing things like designing the website and (search engine optimisation), while I couldn't get my head around it," Binny said, adding, "On the other hand, I was more intuitive in meeting vendors and building the catalogue. These gradually became the roles. Sachin would think of how to grow the business and how to get customers, while I would think of how this could work at 10x the scale."
It was a good partnership but Walmart's entry put an end to it. Sachin had demanded stronger shareholder rights and better role in the operations of the resultant entity, which was opposed by Lee Fixel of Tiger Global Management, one of the major backers of Flipkart, and the company's board. Following this, Sachin had to sell his entire 5.5 per cent stake in Flipkart, sign a non-compete clause with the company and bow out, albeit a much richer man. He is expected to take away around $1 billion from the Walmart-Flipkart $16 billion deal.
In an emotional post on Facebook after the deal was announced, Sachin had written "Sadly my work here is done and after 10 years, it's time to hand over the baton and move on from Flipkart. But I'll be watching and cheering from the outside - Flipsters, you better continue to do a good job!"
Talking about what he would be doing in his time off, he had added that he would be "taking some long time off" to focus on "personal projects" as well as catch up on gaming and "brush up on my coding skills."
The daily has previously reported that Walmart did not see a role for two co-founders on the board and wanted to retain the successful partnership of Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy and group CEO Binny Bansal, and Sachin was disappointed by the turn of events that sidelined him. So an exit was the only way out.
"Every person has to decide for oneself what they want to do," Mitra told the daily on the sidelines of the event organised by startup funding platform LetsVenture. "Even on the investor side, some are there [in Flipkart] and some are not. We each had to make up our minds," he said.
To remind you, Accel Partners had led the Series A round in Flipkart with $1 million. The firm has reportedly already raked in $150-200 million from its partial exit last year. And it is expected to pocket a further $800 million-$1 billion in returns by selling its shares in Flipkart as part of the company's acquisition by Walmart. According to Mitra, this exit is not only the fund's biggest in India, but it also ranks very high globally.
The Walmart-Flipkart deal is expected to close later this year, with the companies awaiting clearance from the Competition Commission of India. When asked about the ongoing protests by trader associations against the deal, Binny told the daily that the matter fell under "Walmart's domain."
On Flipkart's future strategy, Binny reportedly said that financial services would be a major part of the company. "The next 30 years are going to be very exciting. There are many opportunities for us in the core business. There are other opportunities as well, such as in financial services," he said, adding, "PhonePe is growing at 30-40% month-on-month, like Flipkart did in its early days. The future of financial services is digital and we see ourselves having a critical role in it."
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