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Business News/ Industry / Flipkart CFO Sanjay Baweja resigns, replacement unclear

Flipkart CFO Sanjay Baweja resigns, replacement unclear

Sanjay Baweja's exit comes after a period in which Flipkart ceded ground to Amazon India and struggled to raise fresh funds

Sanjay Baweja, outgoing chief financial officer of Flipkart. Photo: ReutersPremium
Sanjay Baweja, outgoing chief financial officer of Flipkart. Photo: Reuters

Bengaluru/New Delhi: Flipkart chief financial officer Sanjay Baweja has resigned from the company after a period in which the online marketplace ceded ground to Amazon India and struggled to raise fresh funds, two people familiar with the matter said.

It’s not clear who will replace Baweja, who plans to leave by the end of December, the people cited above said.

Baweja declined to comment. A Flipkart spokesperson confirmed Baweja’s exit.

The spokesperson said the company is looking for a replacement, without elaborating.

Baweja, 56, joined Flipkart after stints at Tata Communications Ltd, Emaar MGF and Bharti Airtel Ltd. He was hired to set up badly needed processes and systems at a fast-growing start-up, cut losses and prepare Flipkart for an eventual initial public offering (IPO).

The people cited above said that Baweja started off well at Flipkart, but he was also part of the senior management team at Flipkart that presided over a disastrous performance in the last financial year.

In that year, the company lost market share to Amazon, reported an increase in losses, struggled to attract new investors and saw its valuation marked down by its own investors.

In June, the company brought back Kalyan Krishnamurthy as business head in an attempt to revive sales growth. Krishnamurthy, an executive at Flipkart’s largest investor Tiger Global Management, had earlier worked at Flipkart as interim chief financial officer and then as head of categories before leaving abruptly in November 2014.

Baweja is the latest senior executive to leave Flipkart.

Starting with Baweja’s hire in November 2014, Flipkart began replacing its old management team with more experienced leaders across functions. Apart from Baweja, Flipkart hired product chief Punit Soni and engineering head Peeyush Ranjan from Google (Alphabet Inc.); Saikiran Krishnamurthy as chief operating officer of its commerce platform from McKinsey & Co.; Rajinder Sharma as legal head, among others. Of these, already, Soni and Sharma have left while Ranjan moved on to a new role. Another senior executive Anand K.V., who headed customer experience, quit in August.

These exits come in the most tumultuous year for Flipkart. In January, the company replaced Sachin Bansal with Binny Bansal as its chief executive officer. The next month, two of its other seniormost leaders, Mukesh Bansal and Ankit Nagori left.

As CEO, Binny Bansal focused on cutting costs and improving Flipkart’s service levels, but the company still struggled to grow sales and kept losing market share to Amazon India.

Under Krishnamurthy, Flipkart finally turned the corner and outsold Amazon India in the all-important festive season sales earlier this month.

After generating bumper sales during its flagship Big Billion Days (BBD) sale this month, Flipkart plans to hit the market to raise a new, large round of funds before the end of the year, Mint reported on 8 October.

ALSO READ | Flipkart plans to raise up to $1 billion fresh funds

While it will still be tough for Flipkart to hold off Amazon India for long, given the latter’s spending power and quick expansion in India, Flipkart’s performance this month erased doubts about the company’s ability to compete with the American giant.

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Published: 25 Oct 2016, 08:32 PM IST
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