Bengaluru: Over the past few weeks and months, massive changes have taken place at Flipkart, most notably the exit of Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal. Since Bansal’s exit, Flipkart’s current chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy is the undisputed leader at the online retailer, with Myntra and Jabong now reporting into him. In a wide-ranging interview with Mint, Krishnamurthy talked about a variety of issues, including Flipkart’s growth plans for the next few years, the recent round of headlines surrounding changes at Myntra and whether Flipkart plans to get new strategic investors on board. Edited excerpts:
What is your roadmap for the next few years?
In the last 10 years, Flipkart has been a growth company. Continues to be the same. That is the DNA of the company and that doesn’t change. What has happened in the last couple of years is that we have embarked on a number of multi-billion dollar initiatives - several of them. All of them got seeded in the last couple of years. The next couple of years will be all about giving them bigger scale, bigger customer adoption. So, that’s what we’re driving towards - be it our loyalty programme, be it our grocery launch, furniture launch, app-in-app launch, fin-tech scale-up, 2gud, private labels, etc.
On Myntra, there is a lot of talk that there’s integration between Flipkart and Myntra, organisationally. You’ve moved key leaders from Flipkart to Myntra and vice versa…
There is no such talk. There’s no such talk of integration...because there is absolutely no integration happening there. Myntra will be an independent platform for customers for the next 10-20 years. I don’t see that changing. All the functions in Myntra - product, engineering, marketing, operations - will report to the Myntra CEO. We might move people across our group companies, we might do that selectively based on skills and needs of the business, but to us that’s not a big talking point and we don’t read too much into that.
So, who is the Myntra CEO?
As of today, Ananth is the CEO of Myntra.
And any plans to get new leadership there?
We don’t want to discuss that right now.
What about Jabong? Do you want to retain Jabong? How will you keep the differentiation between Flipkart fashion, Myntra, Jabong?
Absolutely, we will retain Jabong. It’s been a difficult journey, but they’ve done an outstanding job of getting it where it is today. We will keep Jabong.
(The differentiation between Flipkart, Myntra and Jabong) is already there. That is the least of my concerns. Different platforms are catering to a different set of customers and offering a good value proposition. Nothing will change on that front...If there is a little bit of an overlap (between Myntra and Flipkart fashion), it’s OK. It’s our own cannibalisation, so we’re very happy with that.
What are the growth targets for the overall fashion business?
From a customer and transactions point of view, it will be 75-80%, year-over-year. Not lower than that.
What’s your roadmap for what you had said could be your IPO over the next few years?
We don’t have a firm date, as of now.
In terms of capital and strategic partners, are you looking for new ones?
As of now, there is nothing to comment on that. If there is something at some stage, we will come back to you.
We also want to understand how you went about handling the Binny Bansal episode…
I don’t want to talk about it.
Why did Walmart choose to disclose the investigation?
As I said, I don’t want to talk about it.
Sachin and Binny have both left in quick succession. Will their presence inside Flipkart be missed?
I don’t want to get into that.
You’ve recently hired a new HR head. Any other top level hires you plan to make? For instance, you still are yet to hire a new CTO.
Not at the moment. We moved away from the CTO structure some time ago.
The recent Barclays report said that Flipkart and Amazon are nearly neck-to-neck with each other, while you’ve claimed repeatedly that Flipkart is far ahead of competition.
As a group, we are at least twice as large as our nearest competitor (Amazon). It is very disappointing that there is nothing inspiring that the competitor does which we can take away. The last 10 years, we’ve innovated and people have just copied. Unfortunately it continues to be like that. We are happy with that, by the way.