SoftBank puts $2.5 bn into Flipkart's wallet

Claudine Rigal
Août 13, 2017

E-commerce major Flipkart on Thursday said it has received investment from SoftBank Vision Fund becoming one of the largest shareholders in the company.

The homegrown e-commerce company has to date raised nearly $7 billion in capital, higher than that raised by global behemoths like online house rental aggregator AirBnB ($3.3 billion), mobile phone maker Xiaomi ($1.4 billion), co-working space provider WeWork ($2.7 billion), social network Pinterest ($1.5 billion), CIA-backed software company Palantir ($1.9 billion), and Elon Musk's SpaceX ($1.1 billion).

In April, Didi Chuxing raised $5 billion and increased its total fund raise to $15 billion, overtaking Uber that has raised $12.9 billion. In the top 10, four are ride-hailing platforms, the other two being Silicon Valley-based Lyft and India's Ola.

"This deal is monumental and is recognition of India's unparalleled potential to become a leader in technology and e-commerce on a massive scale", commented Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal, co-founders of Flipkart.

The investment is part of the financing round announced in April this year where Tiger Global-backed Flipkart had raised Dollars 1.4 billion from Tencent, Microsoft and eBay.

The VC ecosystem, he told TOI, eventually needs to show a large-value creation event, and seeing SoftBank, Tencent and others go long should allay some of the concerns which have been dampening the sentiment locally and giving global investors some pause.

He said e-commerce in India consumes a lot of capital.

Combating Jeff Bezos' new Indian arm will be a tough ask especially after the American promised extra funding in addition to the $5bn already pledged, but the boosted bank account will certainly be a welcome new weapon for Flipkart. This will run for 2-3 years.

Flipkart can now up the ante in the high-stakes battle against Amazon India in what is probably the world's fastest growing e-commerce market. He added that when aggregators are up against real technology companies, it is hard to win by out-funding. At that time, Flipkart was valued at $11.6 billion.

TOI quoted Nitin Sharma, principal and founding member with venture capital fund Lightbox, as saying that the valuation of a company is a function of a lot of things. "Businesses that have more capital efficiency than others are valued more", he said.

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