Flipkart brings back Tiger Global's Kalyan Krishnamurthy to head category management
Kalyan Krishnamurthy — a managing director at Tiger Global, the largest investor in the company — will oversee category management.
Kalyan Krishnamurthy -- a managing director at Tiger Global the largest investor in the Bengaluru based company-- will oversee category management and report directly to chief executive officer Binny Bansal
"The decision to bring back an old time Flipkart-hand-Kalyan-to strengthen our leadership team, was taken by the management team led by Binny (Bansal)," said a spokesman for Flipkart. "Kalyan will head category design organisation and will report to Binny."
Tiger Global did not reply to email questions on whether Krishnamurthy will remain an employee at the New York based firm and continue to hold board positions in its portfolio companies like logistics company Delhivery, jewellery retailer Caratlane and hyper-local electronics shopping app Zopper.
Krishnamurthy is joining Flipkart at a time when India's most valued internet company prepares to battle the might of Amazon in the crucial festive season beginning from October.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of the Seattle-based giant, earlier this month announced plans to increase investments in Amazon India from $2 billion to $5 billion.
"It's very critical for Flipkart to win in the next six months," said one of the people privy to the appointment. While the competition for market dominance so far, has been centred on discounts and customer experience, Amazon India last week reduced the commissions it charges the merchants in its platform, thereby opening a new battle front. Flipkart on the other hand, has introduced higher commissions effective from today. This has led to unrest among certain merchants who are threatening to stop selling their wares on Flipkart on Monday.
While Amazon said it grew shipments by 150% during first quarter of the calendar year Flipkart has not disclosed its sales numbers for 2016, saying customer satisfaction is its key metric now. The e-tailer was targeting GMV or value of goods sold on its platform, of $10-12 billion (Rs 64,000-76,000 crore) by June 2016, more than double the $4 billion it achieved in 2014-15.
A former eBay executive with extensive experiences in Asian markets, Krishnamurthy joined Tiger Global as director of finance for portfolio companies in 2011. He joined Flipkart as an interim CFO in early 2013, when the then incumbent Karandeep Singh quit the company citing personal reasons.
A numbers driven executive who has a background in both operations and finance, Krishnamurthy is widely respected by Flipkart middle and senior management executives who have worked with him before. "Kalayan is a very analytical man. He's going to work at bringing in efficiencies and optimisations in the marketplace categories," said one of the people privy to the plans at Flipkart.
Senior executives who will report to him include Amit Bansal ( head of large appliances) Rishi Vasudev who oversees fashion and Adarsh Menon who is in charge of the electronics & automobiles division
In addition to driving growth in high profile segments, the new head of commerce has also been tasked with closing down the slow moving product and unprofitable lines said people in the know.
Flipkart is aiming to become gross profit positive by September, with category heads assigned sales and customer experience targets as reported earlier by ET in April.
Krishnamurthy's appointment comes a few months after Flipkart had given additional responsibility of category management to chief marketing officer (CMO) Samardeep Subandh, who joined the company from Marico in December 2015. Subandh has now been given an "an expanded role in marketing" and is not looking after category management.
"Earlier he (Samardeep) was only responsible for brand marketing, but now digital and performance marketing besides marketing for Ekart comes under him," said a Flipkart spokesman.
In his earlier stint, Krishnamurthy had also served as senior vice president of retail which involved leading categories. However after Flipkart appointed Sanjay Baweja as its new CFO and appointed Myntra cofounder Mukesh Bansal as head of commerce platform in late 2014, Krishnamurthy returned to Tiger Global back as its managing director in December 2014.
During this phase he led investments in Indian startups and has also joined the board of several investee companies like Delhivery, Caratlane, Zopper, Chaayos and Zostel.
Since Binny Bansal took over as CEO in January, Flipkart has seen several top level changes starting with commerce platform head Mukesh Bansal and chief business officer Ankit Nagori quitting in February. This was followed by chief product officer Punit Soni also leaving Flipkart.
Bansal, meanwhile has also brought back several Flipkart veterans who were with the company since its early days and left in 2015. Those who have come back include Sameer Nigam and Rahul Chari, whose startup PhonePe was acquired by Flipkart, and are now in charge of building a payments business for the company.