What Flipkart’s devaluation means for Indian startups
Marked an inflection point for the Indian startup ecosystem. Emboldened by an ever-increasing smartphone penetration and online shopping reaching millions of customers, this was when India’s most celebrated e-commerce company, Flipkart, raised an eye-popping $1 billion in capital, drawing a never-seen-before valuation of $7 billion for any Indian tech startup.
Flipkart was in one shot catapulted to the top tier of privately held internet ventures globally, comprising superstars like taxi-hailing smartphone app Uber, Airbnb, Dropbox and Pinterest. From then till now, the Bangalore-based e-tailer has had a cascading effect on the overall funding boom in India as a flag-bearer of the country’s startup revolution. So when tech news portal The Information broke the news on Friday that Flipkart has lost 27% of its present $15-billion valuation, according to filings made by a mutual fund managed by one of its investors, Morgan Stanley, the clear and present danger of sharp corrections impacting other high-flying startups hit home harshly. Flipkart did not offer any comments to TOI on Morgan Stanley slashing its valuation.
“This is very significant as it’s the first such public readjustment among the Indian unicorns (privately held startups valued at $1 billion or more). Companies with lofty valuation tags which have no revenue model, forget positive unit economics, would see corrections in the range of 50% or more going forward,” says an investor in many of the big-ticket consumer internet companies who did not want to be named.
Having already scooped up $3.1 billion from myriad investors, Flipkart is currently looking to raise fresh funds to the tune of $1 billion but will find it tough to do so at the $15-billion valuation mark. A dogged rival in Amazon, a new CEO in Binny Bansal (Sachin Bansal stepped down from the post in January), a continuous top-level exodus in the past year, and its inability to expand successfully beyond the commerce business, are now being factored in while determining the value of the company founded in 2007 by the two Bansals who are unrelated.