Fighting Scaling Blues


Flipkart is arguably India’s most important startup – a totemic company whose meteoric growth kicked off the mainstreaming of India’s e-commerce market accompanied by a funding boom.


Flipkart Internet Private Limited

As per MCA records

None for the Indian entity





Tiger Global






What has Flipkart been up to, the last year?

The last year has been a turbulent one for. Amazon’s renewed focus on India saw a bitter bruising battle for the top position in the e-com sweepstakes. We also witnessed a plethora of voices that said that market growth was slowing down and hence the battle between Flipkart and Amazon was largely a zero-sum game targeting the same set of largely static consumers. Mis-steps such as considering a move to an app-only model hurt Flipkart and this was followed by a public acknowledgment that it has failed to hit its targets resulting in flagging sales growth. Notional markdowns of Flipkart’s valuation by some of its hedge fund investors and a growing perception that Amazon would shortly overtake Flipkart led to a drastic reshuffle at the top with Sachin Bansal stepping down as CEO and his co-founder Binny Bansal taking charge. Other generals like Mukesh Bansal and Punit Soni either quit or were let go of. Tiger deputed its trouble-shooter-in-chief Kalyan Krishnamurthy to take charge of several key functions to stem the bleeding and reinvigorate the rank and file to hold on to the pole position.


Rs. 1,952 crore: Net income for Flipkart for FY 15-16 – increase of 143% from previous year

Rs. 2,306 crore: Total loss for Flipkart for FY 15-16 – increase of 117% from previous year

Rs 11.8 crore: Expense per day for the financial year

Rs 6.3 crore: Net burn per day for the financial year

Rs 4,174 crore: Total reserves and surplus held by the company

Rs 1,072 crore: Total cash and cash equivalents at end of period

Rs 750 crore: Inter-Corporate Loans given to associated companies (bearing an interest of 12.5% p.a.)

Rs. 6.5: Rate per minute charged by FXMart Private Limited (sister company) for every call made by customer to Flipkart’s customer support

105: Number of Flipkart employees whose annual salaries exceed Rs 1 crore (3 more at Rs. 99 lakhs – poor dearies)

6: Number of Flipkart employees whose annual salaries exceed Rs 10 crore

33.36%: Percentage of total turnover of company contributed by logistics services (interestingly logistics is the top revenue category by percentage for Flipkart – marketplace services is second at 32% followed by payment gateway services at 24%)

14: The number of corporate entities (holding companies, subsidiaries) that make up the Flipkart group

7: Number of complaints of sexual harassment received during the year (all of them were ostensibly disposed)

2: Number of Flipkart founders whose names do not appear in the Indian entity’s filings – neither Sachin nor Binny Bansal seem to be formally involved with the Indian arm

While the jury is still out on whether the moves initiated by the management and investors will keep Flipkart ahead of its formidable competitor, the numbers for FY 2016 don’t make for entirely bad news. While losses did grow 217%, revenue grew faster at 243% YoY. So while in absolute terms, the losses incurred by Flipkart might seem frightening, the original hypothesis that the overall market is still growing and that there is still considerable headroom to grow into seems to be accurate at a broad level. But as they, the devil is in the details and the days ahead will show whether Flipkart will go down in history as the startup that actually became an emperor or one that could have been king but failed to do so.

Graphic has been updated on November 30th for clarity

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