Sachin Bansal is a soft-spoken man. His words are usually measured, and his tone is usually conciliatory. But when Economic Times published reports claiming Flipkart might’ve been in sale talks with Amazon, the Flipkart cofounder was in no mood to play the nice guy. Tweeting right back at ET, he came up with this zinger.
..and Flipkart has set up a colony in Pluto! Even by low standards of our tech reporting, this is highly unethical https://t.co/9kUi0oyBga
— Sachin Bansal (@_sachinbansal) March 16, 2016
Not to be outdone, his cofounder and Flipkart CEO, Binny Bansal had a retort of his own.
@ETtech Are you sure you got the bit on who was trying to buy who right?It might have been the other way around. No? https://t.co/CnegVHnbjI
— binnybansal (@binnybansal) March 16, 2016
Flipkart’s founders don’t make public statements very often. The fact that they’re taking pains to tweet in unison and denying this report (Binny Bansal has even made his denial his pinned tweet) shows how damaging such a report could be. Flipkart is currently the leader in India’s e-commerce market, but rumours that it could be struggling and looking for a buyer could sap the morale of its employees and investors.
But it’s been a month of bad news for Flipkart. It started off with Morgan Stanley devaluing its stake in the company by 27%, effectively valuing it at $4 billion below its its claimed valuation of $15 billion. Then there had been reports that Alibaba might pick up a stake in the company in a down round, which means the fund raise would value the company at lower than its current valuation. A down round is not good news for a tech company – it shows that the company’s growth trajectory has slowed, and it is being valued at lower than what it previously was.
Interestingly, these reports had elicited no such response then from the Flipkart founders.
Update: A Flipkart spokesperson contacted OfficeChai and gave the following statement: “The report is pure fiction and seems to have been constructed based on invisible “sources” that have highly imaginative minds and given to improbable flights of fancy. There have been no talks or discussions for potential sale. Flipkart continues to be the market leader in India and we are in this business for the long haul.”