For many months now, Shopclues has been shopping for itself.

Sometime back, it initiated informal discussions with Paytm. Also Flipkart. The deal reached a stage where investment bankers got involved to suggest how the deal would benefit either party. And then the trail went cold. “We are not talking anymore,” says a senior Paytm official, who requested not to be named. “When we were, we were looking at the merchants who sell on Shopclues and its customers. We got to a decision that we need neither. Not at the valuation the company was asking.” According to sources, Paytm did put a price to Shopclues sometime around July-August this year. Somewhere around $400 million. A massive haircut considering Shopclues was last (January 2016) valued at $1.1 billion. Needless to say, the number didn’t fly with shareholders of the company.

The Ken reached out to Shopclues for perspective. Sanjay Sethi, the co-founder and CEO of Shopclues did not confirm or deny that these discussions took place. What he said instead is this: “Look, Shopclues is like my daughter. I will marry her off to the best man. That man can be an IPO, that man can be Paytm, that man can be Flipkart or even Snapdeal.”

As open-ended statements go, this should be construed as, well, we are shopping.  

As regular readers of The Ken, you must be familiar with how the e-commerce landscape is shaping up in India, between the likes of Flipkart, Paytm and Amazon. And on the investors’ side, between SoftBank, Alibaba and Jeffrey Bezos. In this context, it is interesting to note how another e-commerce unicorn is almost always flying under the radar. Shopclues is not some mom and pop set up in Gurugram. It is a company that has raised around $200 million (Rs 1,200 crore) from some of the best tech investors in the world. Like Tiger Global. The government of Singapore’s GIC. Nexus Venture Partners, among several other investors.

Another matter altogether that its last fundraise of about $150 million happened a while back. In January of 2016. We are almost touching January of 2018 and two years is a very long time in the tech business. More money did come though. In May 2017, Shopclues raised debt of $7.7 million (Rs 50 crore) from Innoven Capital. And an advertisement for equity plus cash investment of Rs 97.5 crore from Bennett Coleman & Co (BCCL), one of the largest media companies in India. There are more numbers to consider. As of March 2017, Shopclues had accumulated losses of Rs 871 crore, which has resulted in a complete erosion of net worth of the company.

What the company lacks in numbers though, it makes up in guile.

Sethi refused to directly talk about the company’s financials but insisted that Shopclues has money in its Delaware, US, entity—Clues Network Inc.

AUTHOR

Patanjali Pahwa

Patanjali has spent over seven years in journalism. He last worked at Business Standard as Principal Correspondent, where he wrote on startups, e-commerce companies and venture capital. He has worked at an array of institutions, which include Forbes India, Caravan and Outlook Business. He is a Mumbaikar, born and brought up. Patanjali did his BSc in IT from Mumbai University and then got his journalism degree from IIJNM in Bangalore. He is enamoured by Ernest Hemingway and Tom Waits and may try to sneak in references to them in his stories.

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