Home/ Companies / Start-ups/  Sachin Bansal to bet on Ather Energy with Flipkart fortune

Bengaluru: Flipkart co-founder and former chief executive Sachin Bansal is considering a move to invest as much as $100 million each in several startups, after netting $1 billion from the sale of his shares in Flipkart to Walmart, two people familiar with the matter said.

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.

Mint reported on 3 August that Sachin Bansal was considering investing $700 million-$1 billion in startups.

Apart from Ather Energy, Bansal is close to investing about $100 million in cab-hailing firm Ola, the people said. The Economic Times had reported the proposed deal earlier.

Bansal is also in talks to increase his 3.5% stake in SigTuple Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which uses artificial intelligence to aid medical diagnosis, Mint reported on 3 October.

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.

ALSO READ | Sachin Bansal: From outsized Flipkart presence to outcast

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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Updated: 29 Oct 2018, 06:31 AM IST
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