Startup culture doesn't quite have enough history yet to begin repeating itself, but that doesn't mean that a few executives are finding themselves in a revolving door that ferries them from original efforts to offshoot projects and back again to the source.
At least, that's the situation for two former Flipkart executives, Sameer Nigam and Rahul Chari, who are finding themselves employed by the company again after the Indian eCommerce giant acquired PhonePe in a deal valued between $10 million and $20 million, Livemint reported. Binny Bansal, CEO of Flipkart, welcomed the two cofounders of the payments startup back into the Flipkart fold and touted the ambitious work the reconstituted team would be aiming at in the near future.
“Payments has been one of the biggest hurdles for mass adoption of online shopping in India," Bansal said in a statement. "[India's government-mandated Unified Payments Interface] has the potential of transforming the entire payments ecosystem in the country. The acquisition of PhonePe is in line with Flipkart’s focus on driving innovation on the payments front. I am delighted that two Flipkart veterans — Sameer and Rahul — are at the helm of this initiative."
The Economic Times explained that while this is far from the first time Flipkart has attempted to establish itself as a legitimate player in India's payments ecosystem, the PhonePe acquisition may represent its best chance yet. Just last year, Flipkart was forced to buy out FX Mart, a payments provider that had secured government approval to operate until at least 2019. That backdoor access cost Flipkart just over $7 million — not a game-changing deal but enough money to be missed in the thin-margin game of eCommerce in emerging markets.
To their credit, Nigam and PhonePe think they can help Flipkart do better than that.
“PhonePe’s mission is to significantly improve the online and offline digital payments experience for millions of Indian customers," Nigam said. "We are really excited to merge with Flipkart and get access to one of the largest consumer bases in the country, which will allow us to realize our vision at a much larger scale."