What’s he building in there, what the hell is he building in there,” asks Tom Waits in a song, helpfully called, What’s He Building. He is peering over a fence into his neighbour’s yard and is confused. He is sure there is something sinister at work. Admittedly, it isn’t Waits’ best work. He has done better. But the line isn’t too dissimilar to what can and must be asked of Kunal Bahl, Rohit Bansal and Snapdeal.

What are they building in there?

So let’s try and answer that question.

First, the news flash. On Tuesday, 8 November, Snapdeal rolled out a major reorganisation. Vishal Chadha, its senior vice president, would be its new Chief Business Officer – a position that didn’t exist earlier. Saurabh Bansal, formerly head of categories, was carrying out the job in concept. According to sources, who requested not to be named, Saurabh was offered to lead a business unit but he refused. It was only this May that he was made head of categories. His future remains up in the air.

In a move that mirrors that of its arch-rival and market leader Flipkart, CEO Kunal Bahl is stepping back from operational responsibilities to focus on fundraising and fund conserving, while his co-founder Rohit Bansal takes control of day-to-day activities. These changes are significant, especially with the drop in valuation as background. Snapdeal’s last confirmed valuation was at $4.8 billion last August, as reported by Mint, down from $6.5 billion in January. We also reported last week that VC firm Sequoia was apparently willing to sell its stake in Snapdeal at an even lower valuation of $3 billion.

Reorganising the workforce isn’t new for Snapdeal. It has tried everything in the book. Snapdeal has hired people, fired people; decided Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) was boss and then decided Daily Active Users (DAU) was the key metric. It focused on Exclusively.in to drive revenue and then wanted to acquire Jabong and is now hedging its bets on Freecharge. Snapdeal is doing everything that will return it to its glory days of nipping at Flipkart’s heels.

All of this would suggest, this is a farewell Snapdeal story. It is not. The company is evolving and is trying hard to stay relevant. Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal are not pushovers and they know how to put up a good fight. In June ‘16, Snapdeal had, according to sources, about $450 million sitting in the bank, giving it a runway of about 20 months. And buyers are circling. Snapdeal is the third biggest player in the market and you can swipe them away as an also-ran but do it at your own risk.

The evolution of Snapdeal will define how the market plays out.

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.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?

MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750

Subscribe
 

Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500

Subscribe
MOST POPULAR

Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120

Subscribe
 

Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50

Subscribe
 

Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20

Subscribe

Questions?

What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at [email protected] detailing the error or queries.