Sachin Bansal’s having a rough couple of weeks. Two of his top executives have left Flipkart to start their own company together, and there have been reports that Flipkart was in talks to sell to Amazon.
Today Bansal let out an unprovoked and uncharacteristically venomous attack on competitors Snapdeal and Paytm.
Alibaba deciding to start operations directly shows how badly their Indian investments have done so far
— Sachin Bansal (@_sachinbansal) March 25, 2016
Bansal was referring to Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba’s upcoming India entry. Two of Flipkart’s closest Indian competitors, Snapdeal and Paytm, have investments from Alibaba, and the former Flipkart CEO was trying to imply that Snapdeal’s and Paytm’s underperformance had required the Chinese giant to take on the India market by itself.
But Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl wasn’t going to take this lying down. A mere 7 minutes after Bansal’s tweet, Bahl came up with this zinger.
Didn't Morgan Stanley just flush 5bn worth market cap in Flipkart down the 🚽? Focus on ur business not commentary https://t.co/8NpkhWWo2j
— Kunal Bahl (@1kunalbahl) March 25, 2016
Kunal Bahl touched on an issue that Flipkart has been avoiding comment on so far. Earlier this year, the company had seen Morgan Stanley cut down its valuation of the company by 27%, causing its implied valuation to fall a full $4 billion. The news had sent tremors around the Indian e-commerce industry, and given more ammunition to skeptics who’d maintained that Flipkart had been overvalued at its peak value of $15 billion. The news had also meant that Sachin’s Bansal’s personal net worth, which is over $1 billion, could take a significant hit.
Bahl’s reply seemed to kill Bansal’s bombast in an instant – he chose to reply with a tame “:p”.
But Bansal’s uncharacteristic attack shows how rattled Flipkart is about Alibaba’s India plans. Right now Flipkart sits comfortably at the top of India’s e-commerce pile, but Alibaba could post a challenge of a scale that Flipkart has never encountered before. Alibaba delivers 12 million packages a day compared to Flipkart’s 0.3 million, and does more sales in one day (on Singles Day, a Chinese sale) than Flipkart does in an entire year. Plus, being publicly listed, it has deep pockets, while doubts are being raised about Flipkart being able to raise more money at its current valuation.
And as Snapdeal CEO’s response shows, Flipkart doesn’t only have to worry about foreign competition – Indian e-commerce firms are no pushovers either, whether in business or on Twitter.