The meeting happened last week. On Tuesday. Called the OVPL or the Operational Leadership Team. Present at the meeting were many top Snapdeal employees: Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, the co-founders; Vishal Chadha, the Chief Business Officer; Jayant Sood, head of customer experience; Anup Vikal, the Chief Financial Officer; Rajiv Mangla, the Chief Technology Officer; and Anubhav Goyal, who heads price analytics.
The team had asked for the meeting. Just so they could get up to speed with what was on. They had been in the dark for a while about the much-discussed deal with Flipkart. And now, they needed answers. What’s happening? Is it off? If it is off, what specific clause in the termsheet, exactly, was unacceptable? What does the Board have to say?
According to a few Snapdeal employees who are privy to what transpired in the meeting, Bansal had little to say. Except that Snapdeal must chart a new path independently. And to do that it must get rid off some 900 of its 1,200 employees.
The leadership team balked.
“We can’t do this.” said a senior Snapdeal official privy to the details of the meeting. “The team had questions such as, ‘is this something that you are saying we have to do, or something the Board has asked?’ Bansal said they have to do this independently. But the team said it wouldn’t. Not without a conclusive answer on what’s exactly on with the Flipkart deal.”
Nobody wanted more blood on their hands. Because it is never Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal who must fire people, it is always the team heads. And in the last 15 months alone, Snapdeal has shrunk from 5,000 to 1,200 employees. “The team basically said they won’t do it,” adds the official. “Everyone was pissed off. Mangla, for instance was already worried because in the last round of firings in the technology team, he had fired more people than needed. But it seems the company does have a list of 900 people and it will start the firings as early as this week. And when they are done, the company will have some 300 people left.”
This will be Snapdeal 2.0. A much-shrivelled core team. An email with a detailed set of questions sent to Snapdeal did not elicit any reply.
Snapdeal: 1, Rivals: 0
It will be fair to say Bahl, the ultimate startup survivor, has done it again–besting his enemies and winning in the face of overwhelming odds. So who exactly did Bahl beat? Bahl stymied SoftBank, its biggest backer’s plans. He prevented the firm which has backed him with more than $900 million, and thwarted its attempts to salvage something from a sinking ship which Snapdeal had become with Bahl at the wheel.
And what exactly did Bahl win?