Flipkart And Snapdeal’s Big Problem, Explained In 3 Graphs

The dust is now settling on the festive sales season, and mood in e-commerce circles is upbeat. Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal have all claimed record numbers, and have seen large spikes in their sales. But as the packages reach happy customers across the country, maybe it’s time to confront the problem that Flipkart and Snapdeal are facing – their growth has all but stagnated.

We’ve been using Google Trends to  analyze data on e-commerce companies, and it’s worked remarkably well so far. Right after the first day of the sales, we’d predicted that Flipkart would have the strongest sale, and this was corroborated later by other outlets when the three companies released their sales numbers. Given Google’s volumes, and the similarity of products sold by the three companies, Google Trends is an effective proxy to judge the relative popularity of the three main e-commerce players.

And it doesn’t paint a pretty picture for Flipkart and Snapdeal. If one looks at searches for “Snapdeal” and “Flipkart” over the last 5 years, we see that searches for the e-commerce companies peaked around 2014 – and have been falling since then.

 

In 2014, e-commerce in India was flourishing. Money was flowing, discounts were aplenty, and e-commerce companies were growing rapidly.  Searches for Flipkart and Snapdeal rose, and even though both companies were accumulating huge losses, investors weren’t worried. It was okay to make losses as long as you could grow. Amazon, e-commerce’s poster child, had famously followed this approach – it never made profits until quite late in in lifecycle.

But things have changed after that. Since the end of 2014, the average searches for both Flipkart and Snapdeal have gradually slowed. Barring the spikes, which occur during the holiday sales, both Flipkart and Snapdeal are less popular than they were two years ago.

This is in stark contrast to Amazon, the company they both with to emulate. In its early years, Amazon was losing money, like Snapdeal and Flipkart, but it was also growing. Global searches for Amazon grew every year in since 2004.

Over the last 12 years, Amazon’s march has been steady and progressive. If you’re competing with Amazon, this graph is terrifying – in not one year in over a decade has Amazon faltered. It has grown year on year, every year.

This is precisely the reason why Amazon can afford to make losses, and its share price still keeps rising. It may be losing money, but it’s growing, and will one day eventually command the market. Like Amazon, Snapdeal and Flipkart are also making losses, but far from growing, their popularity has shrunk over the last two years.

Since 2014, as searches for Snapdeal and Flipkart in India fell, Amazon’s searches in India rose. As the homegrown companies watched, Amazon rapidly ate into their market share. Things changed so quickly, that Amazon is neck-and-neck with Flipkart, and Snapdeal is now a distant third.

And that has investors spooked. Flipkart’s valuation has been repeatedly cut by several mutual funds and investors, and Snapdeal is now clearly lags behind the big two. And what’s perhaps the biggest reason that Flipkart and Snapdeal aren’t growing? It’s the India entry of the company they’d both wished to emulate.

What does that mean for Flipkart and Snapdeal? They’re currently both losing money, and shrinking in popularity. This is clearly unsustainable in the long run. There’s lots riding on these companies – having raised billions of dollars, they can’t afford to stand idly by and watch Amazon take over their space. The one path that remains is mergers and acquisitions – Snapdeal and Flipkart will have to either team up to take on Amazon, or will have big foreign investors buy significant stakes in then. Walmart and Alibaba are already making moves, and both companies have indicated that they aren’t averse to the overtures.

If things go as they are, 2017 could well be the year of consolidation in the Indian e-commerce space.

I Applied For A Passport In Bangalore, And The Experience Was Nothing Like What I Expected

I’ll be honest – I don’t look forward to doing any work that involves going to a government or government office. Government processes are infamous for being depressing, tiring and outright stressful. Thanks to heavy doses of experiences from friends and family, and representations in pop culture, government office conjures up an old dusty office, piles of dishevelled files, and less-than-enthusiastic workers. But this is how my online passport application process in India looked like.

However, a visit to the regional passport office in Bengaluru to renew my passport was nothing like I expected. 

Maybe because it’s just Bangalore, and tech is in the city’s DNA. So be it its fledgling silicon valley, or its Blackberry-toting cops, when the government says it’s revamping its process and gearing up for a digital India, you’d better believe it.

1. The passport application process starts online

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The first step towards getting a passport means logging in to a central passport website which is the first Google result for ‘Passport’. While the website per se isn’t the most user-friendly and can be challenging to navigate, it does do the job. From FAQs to checklists, the website hosts most of the information needed to apply for a passport. There’s an option to register and fill up an application form eliminating the need to go the office, procure a physical form, struggle to fill up information in the small space provided. The registration fees also is paid online through a credit or debit card or via net banking.

2. The regional Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) offices are not your usual government establishments

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Armed with a receipt of the appointment letter, you’re asked to report at the Regional Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) for face-to-face interviews with multiple Passport officers and finish all the rounds of the application process. Here’s where the magic of how efficient the system has become first strikes you.

After the security frisking, the attending officer cursorily goes through the documents you’ve brought in and decides whether you can move to the next level. If through, you will get a system-generated token slip. While waiting, you also have the option to get more information  about the process at the “Information Kiosks” set up around the facility, along with self-servicing printing and photocopying machines if you forgot to take any printouts. After showing your slip to the security, you go inside the waiting area where your number will show up on an LCD screen and announced by an attendant.

3. Get your portfolio photo done simultaneously as your documents are scanned

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This is the first step in the 3-pronged checking process, or “counter A”. The officer will check your documents, scan and upload them to your digital file on their system. It’s at this step your photo will be taken! Yes, no more getting the eponymous passport photos printed and tacking them on your paper application. The government has gone digital and how! There are semi-DSLRS perched on every desk in the ‘A’ section, and while the photo may not match up to your model catalogue standards, they do an okay job. What’s fascinating is how instantly the photo is taken, uploaded and appended on your digital form. This is followed by a quick finger and thumb pattern scanning. After all your documents have been uploaded, photo taken, fingerprints taken, you’re now cleared for the next section or “B counters”.
4. LCD screens and native advertising

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Before moving to this counter, you’re expected to wait and your token number will, like before, will appear on a couple of LCD screens. And while you wait for your turn, you can’t help but notice the subtle ad plugs on the LCD screen. These are usually banner ads on NRI schemes by banks. Talk about contextual targeting! The government has not only adopted digital, but also found ways to monetize its properties in the best way possible.

5. Sandwiches and cappuccino

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Between your second and last round in the process, the wait is usually the longest and you could have to wait up to an hour for your turn. It’s here that you can use the time to visit the clean and well-maintained toilet, tend to a baby in dedicated “Baby care zones” if you have one, or simply grab a coffee and some snacks at the inhouse cafe. Yup, the Regional Passport Offices have an in-house cafe! Coffee, tea, subs, and some light snacks can be purchased for a reasonable price, and you can wait at the adjacent lounge area, while you keep your eyes peeled for your token number on the LED screen over a cappuccino.

6. All the status updates on your mobile

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After you’ve cleared all the requirements to get the coveted “approved” stamp (or rather, click) on your file, you exit the building after filling up a small questionnaire at the the back of your token slip. Feel free to tell them to introduce latte at the cafe, or to improve lighting at the photo stations!  You take all your documents back home, and wait. If you’ve opted in for the service, you will get constant text messages about the status of your passport application – submitted, approved, printed, dispatched, received, and later about the police verification status.

Around 3-4 days later, your shining new passport arrives at your house.

7. A visit from the cops

After you’ve received your passport, comes the last step in the process – the police verification. An officer from the nearest police station came by at the address furnished in my application to make sure I lived there. (and freaked out my house help in the process.) While we went through some questions, and I furnished some additional documents for his perusal, I was pleasantly surprised to have passed 15 minutes, and not a single mention of “chai paani’. Though I had celebrated too soon – just when the officer was out of the door, and making his way out, he did cast a “nudge nudge wink wink” look at me, ignoring which I continued to shut the door, and just then he said what was probably on his mind all long. “Madam, what about my reward?”  But I really wanted to test this out. “Sorry sir, no cash in my wallet today”, said I and the officer left without making a fuss. Whew.

All in all, the passport application process that I observed has become digital and user friendly, barring a few remnants of legacy-babuism. And if this is anything to go by, hopefully this can be a model the Indian government needs to adopt not only at the passport offices, but any other department still reeling under the weight of babus, inefficiencies, and millions of dusty old files.

7 Foreign Celebrities That Have Sold Products To Indian Audiences

While social media might be abuzz with the strange phenomenon of an Indian pan masala brand having got Pierce “James Bond” Brosnan onboard as their brand new brand ambassador, many other western celebs have lent their faces to Indian brands. Whether it’s their global appeal, or the aspirational value they bring in to otherwise Indian offerings, popular Western stars have appeared in Indian ads. 

 

1. Messi for Tata motors

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Argentinian football sensation shocked and delighted Indian football fans when he appeared on full-page newspaper ads and TVCs for Tata Motors. It was the first Indian brand promoted by Messi, who’s among the highest paid athletes in the world.

 

2. Hugh Jackman for Micromax

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Micromax India might have pulled quite a coup by roping in one of the biggest action stars in Hugh Jackman. The Oscar-nominated X-men and Wolverine star can be seen performing stunts in this 2 minute ad for the Indian smartphone manufacturer. Roping in Jackman was reportedly a move to change the brand’s customer perception from a ‘cheap’ to a ‘high value’ phone. Jackman for his part continued building on his new found love for India and was seen hugging prime minister Narendra Modi at a diplomatic event in New York last year.

 

3.  Steve Waugh and Brian Lara for MRF tyres

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It’s far too common a sight to see Indian cricketers sporting the MRF logo on their sporting equipment. But the Chennai-based tyre company managed to get Australia biggie Steve Waugh and West Indian legend Brian Lara to promote the brand. The 3 year sponsorship included using of MRF bats and other cricket equipment and promotional endorsement of MRF products.

 

4. Brett Lee for ‘Pearls’ group

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While Brett Lee has appeared in various Kingfisher commercials, along with other cricket players during cricketing tournaments, and later as part of his IPL contract with Mallya owned RCB, Lee has also endorsed a campaign by a real estate company called “Pearls group”. Interestingly, the company was debunked and sued for turning out to be a Ponzi scheme later. Though, Lee who was paid $300,000 for the one minute TVC probably knew precious little about the same.

5. Tiger Woods for Hero Motors

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image: Team BHP

In one of the biggest endorsement deals involving an international sports star and an Indian brand, Hero Motors signed international golfing giant Tiger Woods for a record Rs. 250 crore. While Woods claims to have never driven a bike in his life, he’s promoted the Hero Group and supported Hero-supported golfing tournaments in his capacity as a brand ambassador.

6. Jackie Chan for Bajaj DTSi

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Back in 2008, before the age of social media and IPL, Bajaj pulled off a feat by getting international superstar Jackie Chan to star in an ad for Bajaj DTSi. The ad is seemingly set in China, but Chan for his part can be seeing doing a Namastey as he climbs onto the bike.

7. Pierce Brosnan for Reid & Taylor and Pan Bahar

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And finally James Bond star Pierce Brosnan has not only recently become the face of the little-known Indian Pan Masala brand Pan Bahar, but he’s also endorsed the clothing brand Reid & Taylor before Amitabh Bachchan took over. But instead of endorsing the clothing line directly, Brosnan and Reid & Taylor have had campaigns around the Bond movies Brosnan has starred in, and have involved the tagline “Bond with the best”.

There’s Something Strange Going On With These Snapdeal Tweets

It’s been a season of sales, but it’s also been a season of claims. India’s three top e-commerce companies have all touted impressive numbers – Flipkart says it’s done Rs. 1400 crore worth of sales in a day, Amazon says it sold 1 lakh products in the first half hour, and Snapdeal says it’s seen more traffic on its site than ever before. 

But there’s one particular claim by Snapdeal that caught our eye.

In a promotional video shared by Snapdeal, a Category Marketing  Manager happily tells the camera that “We’re trending number 1 on Twitter…that’s what we just got to know from our social media team.” At the 1:09 mark, another employee excitedly says “Twitter bhara pada hai (There’s lots happening on Twitter)”

The claims are true. During the sales, the hashtag #SnapdealUnboxDiwaliSale was indeed among the top trends on Twitter. But we’ve been looking at data closely around these sales, and we decided to dig a little deeper.

A quick search for Snapdeal on Twitter throws up a lot of tweets – people are discussing offers, talking about things they bought, and making complaints.

Snapdeal also seemed to have its share of ardent fans – like one Mr. Rajeev Kumar.

Now Rajeev Kumar doesn’t seem to be particularly active on Twitter. He’d joined in 2012, has no display picture, and has tweeted only 10 times since then. But his last few tweets, all in quick succession, look something like this.

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One after another, Rajeev Kumar has tweeted “Snapdeal is a nice website. Shopping on Snapdeal is very easy”, “Snapdeal is the best. Great offers and savings from Snapdeal”, “Snapdeal is one of the best websites I have seen so far. Love the huge range of products”, “Snapdeal is one of the best websites I have seen so far. Cheers to SD PLus for timely delivery.”, and “I’m a loyal and happy Snapdeal shopper.”

The offers on Snapdeal were quite tempting, so one can argue that Rajeev felt compelled to let his love about Snapdeal known. This could be a one-off case of someone who’s really happy with Snapdeal.

Except that it isn’t.

Several accounts have tweeted the exact same thing as Mr. Kumar – and have chosen to use his exact same language, verbatim.

The first tweet – “Snapdeal is a nice website. Shopping on Snapdeal is very easy.” has been tweeted many hundreds of times, by several different accounts.

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And things are exactly the same way for the other tweets

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Here’s Mr. Kumar’s third tweet, and repeated verbatim by several other accounts.

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Here’s his fourth.

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And there are other similar tweets that aren’t on Mr. Kumar’s account, but have been tweeted, word for word, by lots of accounts.

7 Times Google Trolled The iPhone During The Pixel Launch

There had been leaks aplenty, but Google officially launched its Pixel phone on 4th October. And once the presentation started, it became clear what the Google Pixel was was intended to replace. Its guns were firmly trained towards the iPhone.

Priced at Rs. 57,000, Pixel clearly competes with the iPhone, which is about the only phone in its price range. And during the launch, Google wanted to drive home the point that it was better than its competitor. Here’s 7 times when Google trolled the iPhone with the Pixel.

1.”No unsightly camera bump”: Apple claims that its iPhones are the epitome of finesse and perfection, but the latest iPhone isn’t as flat and smooth as you’d expect. The back of the phone features a protrusion where the camera nests. Google lost no time in pointing this out, describing its own flat Pixel as having “no unsightly camera bump.”

2. The camera: Google is also claiming that the camera on the Pixel is the best camera ever put on a smartphone. Sounds familiar? It is, because Apple had made the claim not 3 weeks ago for their iPhone 7 launch. And Google, being Google, used data to put Apple down – it showed ratings by rating agency Dxomark, which showed that Pixel’s camera was rated 89, ahead of iPhone7’s measly 86.

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3. “Like doesn’t have a version number new?”: Google’s promo video for Pixel stresses that it’s a new phone, and doesn’t even have a version number. It’s not an absolute coincidence that Apple’s latest release was called the iPhone 7, which had preceded the iPhone 6, iPhone 5, iPhone 4…you get the picture.

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4. The headphone jack jibe: But not everything about the Pixel is new. Apple had earlier courted controversy for doing away with the 3.5mm headphone jack. Google lost no time pointing this out in its product video, calling the 3.5 mm headphone jack on the Pixel as “satisfyingly not new.”

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5. The entire promotional video: Apple had released a new-agey video for the iPhone, with dramatic cuts, and simple lines of text on the screen. Google’s gone ahead and released a Pixel video in the exact same style. What’s more, even the background music for the two videos is very similar. If AIB could do a parody on the video, why couldn’t Google?

 

6. The colours: Apple had, in typical Apple fashion, decided to offer the iPhone in 2 distinct colours – jet black, and simply, black. Google decided to one-up Apple with its colors – the Pixel is available in “quite black”, “very silver” and “really blue.”

7. The “storage full” popups: Google’s giving all Pixel users unlimited storage to store their photos and videos on the web. This means that its users, unlike iPhones users, will never run out of storage. And Google made sure to rub this in by declaring “Say goodbye to those annoying storage full popups,” while the iPhone storage full popup icon was displayed in all its glory behind the presenter. Burn.

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8. And finally, it displayed an actual iPhone: The Pixel showed off that it could help you switch seamlessly from the iPhone by transferring your data, contacts, and even iMessages to the Pixel. In what was perhaps an unprecedented moment in Google launches, it actually showed a (partially hidden) iPhone, calmly transferring data to a Pixel. If that didn’t drive the point home, nothing will.

 

Large Organizations Hire Smart People And Force Them To Be Stupid, Says New Book

It’s one of the cornerstones of pop culture – a well meaning employee caught amongst the trappings of a corporate office. There’s Dilbert, who has to deal with this thick, technically challenged pointy-haired boss; then there’s the American TV show, The Office, which has Michael Scott bumble his way through leading a team. Closer home, Office Office in the 90s showed that government offices weren’t exactly paragons of efficiency. 

It seems to be a recurring theme – the media regularly seems to regularly imply that corporate offices don’t foster innovation and smarts. But these depictions might just be mirroring reality, a new book has claimed.

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“Smart young things joining the workforce soon discover that, although they have been selected for their intelligence, they are not expected to use it,” says Andre Spicer, author of the new book The Stupidity Paradox: The Power and Pitfalls of Functional Stupidity at Work.

Each summer, thousands of the best and brightest graduates join the workforce. Their well-above-average raw intelligence will have been carefully crafted through years at the world’s best universities,” he says. But their jobs don’t require them to use any of this intelligence – in fact they positively discourage it. “(The students) will be assigned routine tasks that they will consider stupid. If they happen to make the mistake of actually using their intelligence, they will be met with pained groans from colleagues and polite warnings from their bosses. After a few years of experience, they will find that the people who get ahead are the stellar practitioners of corporate mindlessness.”

“After a few years of dull tasks, they hoped that they’d move on to more interesting things. But this did not happen. As they rose through the ranks, these ambitious young consultants realised that what was most important was not coming up with a well-thought-through solution. It was keeping clients happy with impressive PowerPoint shows. Those who did insist on carefully thinking through their client’s problems often found their ideas unwelcome. If they persisted in using their brains, they were often politely told that the office might not be the place for them,” he continues.

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“Organisations hire smart people, but then positively encourage them not to use their intelligence. Asking difficult questions or thinking in greater depth is seen as a dangerous waste. Talented employees quickly learn to use their significant intellectual gifts only in the most narrow and myopic ways.

Those who learn how to switch off their brains are rewarded. By avoiding thinking too much, they are able to focus on getting things done. Escaping the kind of uncomfortable questions that thinking brings to light also allows employees to side-step conflict with co-workers. By toeing the corporate line, thoughtless employees get seen as ‘leadership material’ and promoted. Smart people quickly learn that getting ahead means switching off their brains as soon as they step into the office.”

The conclusions are blunt, but they will ring true for many of the millions that are employed across Indian offices. Tech offices in India often require routine work that has little room for innovation and creative thinking. And no matter what most companies’ HR policies say, speaking out against the existing policies isn’t taken too kindly.

Maybe this is what’s fueling the growing trend towards entrepreneurship in India. If companies persist in being hierarchical and giving people mundane tasks, more and more driven people will eventually strike out on their own.

 

Quikr And Olx Might Soon Have A Huge New Competitor – Facebook

If you use Facebook at all, you’ll find it’s littered with people buying and selling stuff. And the variety of things being transacted over Facebook is huge – there are posts with people buying everything from second hand cameras to brand new houses. These posts until now had no home – they were found in groups, on personal profiles, and tagged via friends. Now Facebook’s gone ahead and done something it should’ve done a long time ago – it’s created a central marketplace for commerce on its site.

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Facebook’s just launched Marketplace, which it says will be a destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community. And it seems serious about the initiative – the marketplace icon finds a place right on the home screen of Facebook’s app.

Facebook Marketplace will allow users to browse through items listed by people around them. Facebook will here leverage two advantages that most other online marketplaces like Quikr and Olx don’t have – everyone and their uncle is already on Facebook, and Facebook already knows where you live.

Within the marketplace, items listed by people are searchable, and divided into categories such as Household, Electronics and Apparel. The location tool allows you to set your location, or switch to a different city altogether.

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If you like an item, you can message the seller and discuss the price and how the transaction takes place – Facebook’s role ends at connecting you to the seller. That seems like a clever move, because the logistics of payments and delivery is something that Facebook shouldn’t attempt to get involved in – it wants to connect people after all, not enter the delivery business.

While Facebook Marketplace is having a soft launch in USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, the company says it will soon expand to other countries, and soon launch the feature for desktop users too. 

India, of course, should be a great market for Facebook’s new product. It has a thriving economy in second-hand goods, and has Facebook’s biggest user base after the US. India already has companies like Olx and Quikr that provide a similar sort of service. With Facebook entering the fray, and given that the downloads of the Facebook app dwarf the downloads of Quikr and Olx put together in India, the next few months should be very interesting for the sector. If Facebook plays its cards right, things look ripe for a proper shakeout.

Flipkart Appears To Have Had The Most Popular Sale This Year According To Google Trends

Come Diwali, and there’s a grand showdown between India’s e-commerce stalwarts. The top three firms go all out to woo consumers and ratchet up sales – there’s discounts, promotions, and offers galore. What’s more, the three firms end up going head to head – Amazon, Flipkart, and Snapdeal have held coinciding sales this year. This makes it a zero-sum-game – one retailer’s gain is another’s retailer’s loss. What this also allows for is some neat comparisons to determine how the three are doing.

Amazon and Flipkart have both released impressive sales numbers from the initial days of their sales, but these numbers are best taken with a pinch of salt. What’s worse, they’re hard to compare – Amazon for instance says it’s sold 1 lakh products in the first 30 mins, Flipkart countered with saying it had sold 5 lakh in the first hour. But it’s hard to drill down on these numbers – what kinds of products where these? What was the revenue? Or profit? How many were returned?

We’ve earlier used Google Trends to figure out the relative popularity of the companies, for we believe it offers an unbiased and broad view of what’s really going on. While Google Trends doesn’t give lots of details, given the volume of searches on Google, and the similarity of product offerings by the top three, it can be used an an effective proxy to determine who’s where.

And it’s showing some interesting results. Earlier we’d reported that Amazon had been rapidly gaining ground in India. But come sales season, Flipkart’s seems to be back on top.

This graph shows the relative popularity of the terms “Flipkart”, “Amazon” and “Snapdeal” in India. Before the sales began, Flipkart and Amazon were neck-to-neck, and Snapdeal trailed behind them. Then Amazon started its Great Indian Festival sale at 12 am on the 1st of October. Around that time, there’s a jump for Amazon searches, and Amazon opens up a wide lead between Flipkart and Snapdeal on 1st October.

At 12 am on 2nd October, Flipkart and Snapdeal launched their respective sales. Both companies saw spikes in their searches, and Flipkart shot to the top of the pile. Flipkart’s peak bounce was 33% higher than Amazon’s. Snapdeal had a bounce too, but never quite went past either Flipkart or Amazon.

Flipkart held the lead all through 2nd October, the first day of its sale. And going into the 2nd day, it’s still ahead of its rivals – it’s opened up a marked gap between the other two.

These results are also corroborated by the searches on the names of the sales. We looked at search volume for “Big Billion Day”, “Great Indian Festival”, and “Unbox Diwali”, the names of the sales carried out by Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal respectively. Here, there’s no contest – Flipkart’s ahead of the other two by miles.

It perhaps helps Flipkart that it’s built the Big Billion Day brand over three years. It had its share of infamy in 2014 when Flipkart had to publicly apologize for technical glitches on its site during the sale, but all publicity is good publicity. People seem to have the most recall with the name of Flipkart’s sale, as opposed to the names of the other two sales.

 

But it should be noted that Flipkart’s lead over its rivals isn’t as great as the last graph suggests – searches for “Big Billion Day” are tiny in comparison with “Flipkart” searches. They names of the companies are still the best way to compare their relative popularities.

In summary, this is what Google Trends tells us about the sales so far:

  1. At a macro level, Amazon is rapidly gaining on Flipkart as the top e-commerce portal in the country. 
  2. Flipkart’s done better than Amazon during the sales period
  3. Snapdeal is now a clear distant third behind the top two. 


Flipkart should be heartened by its showing in the sales. While this analysis doesn’t consider the promotional or marketing costs, Flipkart seems to have staved off Amazon $2 billion paycheck to turn in a strong performance. The Amazon train might be rolling on, but these sales have made it clear – Flipkart isn’t going to go down without a fight.

How Three IITians Have Just Taken Their Company To A $4 Billion IPO

On Friday, a startup called Nutanix became the latest company to list on NASDAQ. Shares were listed at $13-15 range. After a day’s trading, they had risen 131% to $37 a share.

The founders of Nutanix, CEO Dheeraj Pandey, Ajeet Singh and CTO Mohit Aron had just become very rich. Pandey and Aron own around 10% of the shares of the company, making them worth nearly $400 million (Rs. 2800 crore) each.

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The founding team of Nutanix (from left: Dheeraj Pandey, Mohit Aron and Ajeet Singh)

All three were born in India, and had trod a path that was common in the 90s. They’d all attended the Indian Institutes of Technology, and had moved to the US for higher studies. Dheeraj Pandey had studied Computer Science at IIT Kanpur and had graduated in 1997. He’d then moved to the University of Texas, Austin where he’d done his MS before dropping out of the PhD. Ajeet Singh was a batchmate of Pandey’s at IIT Kanpur, where he’d studied Chemical Engineering. He’d gone on to do an MBA from IIM Calcutta, before moving to the US. Mohit Aron had graduated from IIT Delhi two years before them in 1995; he’d gone on to finish his MS and Phd from Rice University. 

After graduating, both Pandey and Aron went on to work several tech jobs. Pandey worked at several companies including Oracle, and Aron was with Google. Singh moved to the US too and worked with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Honeywell. The three met at Aster Systems – Pandey was a VP of Engineering, Aron was an Architect, and Singh was a Director of Product Management.

In September 2009, all three left their jobs at Aster to found their own company. They founded Nutanix, a company that helped data centers manage their resources. It created a virtualized datacenter platform that provided datacenter infrastructure solutions for implementing enterprise-class solutions. Back then, Amazon was already making big strides with its AWS service, but Nutanix realized that the cloud computing market was large enough for several players.

Investors seemed to agree – they raised their Series A of $13.2 million a year and a half after they were founded. The revenues and the customers of the  company grew, and several big names backed them – Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures, Anshu Sharma, Goldman Sachs, and Lightspeed Ventures. Lightspeed Ventures, incidentally, had provided the company with a $10 million check – it turned into $1 billion at the IPO, a 100x gain in five years.

Nutanix grew, and became a formidable name in the cloud computing space. In 2015, the company had sales of $200 million (Rs. 1,350 crore). They filed for an IPO 9 months ago, and after a long wait, finally listed this Friday.

nutanix ipo

Ajeet Singh and Mohit Aron had left the company a couple of years ago to start their own ventures, and remain in advisory roles, but Dheeraj Pandey has stayed on as CEO. As he stood at the NASDAQ ceremony with his family that included his young son, Pandey was remarkably stoic about the development. “I’m not really focused on today itself,” he told Forbes after ringing the opening bell. “Any entrepreneur who asks me for advice, I say don’t find the highs and lows.”

And he seemed to be embodying that spirit. After the IPO, and his newfound wealth, he chose to walk back to his hotel sans a limo or fanfare. Stay scrappy, he says.