Bansal is in talks to invest an additional $50-100 million in electric vehicle maker Ather Energy Pvt. Ltd, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity. Sachin Bansal, Flipkart co-founder Binny Bansal and Tiger Global Management, which was Flipkart’s largest shareholder, are all investors in Ather Energy.
Bansal didn’t respond to a request for comment. Ather Energy declined to comment.
Bansal’s entry as an investor could alter the power dynamics between investors and entrepreneurs in India’s startup ecosystem. It is widely known that powerful investors such as SoftBank Group Corp. and Tiger Global Management call the shots at Indian startups. Bansal’s exit from Flipkart was brought about by his clash with Tiger Global’s Lee Fixel and Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy. In May, when Walmart agreed to buy 77% in Flipkart for $16 billion, Bansal was forced out of the company he co-founded.
Now, SoftBank and others will have to contend with a powerful and influential rival.
Bansal, who started the company with his business partner, Binny Bansal, in 2007 from an apartment in Koramangala, was the vision behind Flipkart, the big-picture man. Though his exit from Flipkart was bitter, for millions, he remains the defining face of Indian entrepreneurship, especially after it became public that he was set to pull in $1 billion in cash from the sale.
Already, Bansal’s proposed investment in Ola is seen strengthening the hand of CEO Bhavish Aggarwal, who is fighting a boardroom battle with SoftBank. Fixel resigned from Ola’s board of directors last year, a few weeks before Aggarwal blocked SoftBank from raising its stake by buying more shares from Tiger Global.
Over the past few months, Bansal has been working closely with Ather Energy, the people cited above said. At Ather Energy, Bansal was one of the first customers to take home the Ather 450 at the scooter maker’s delivery event held on 11 September. His association with the electric scooter maker dates back to 2014 when he and Binny Bansal pumped seed funding into the company.
Ather Energy is also backed by India’s largest two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp Ltd. Only three months ago, the company raised $19 million in its series C funding round from Hero. It has raised roughly $60 million till date.
After spending five years designing and developing its scooter, Ather Energy delivered the first batch of vehicles from its Whitefield assembly plant in September.
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