The biggest success story of Indian e-commerce started from a two-bedroom apartment in Bengaluru.
On Sept. 15, 2007, Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal (not related) started Flipkart as an online bookstore. The two had known each other since 2005 when they attended the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi (IIT-Delhi) together and were colleagues at Amazon briefly.
Eleven years later, the world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has agreed to buy a controlling stake in the company, Softbank chief executive officer Masayoshi Son said today (May 09).
Flipkart’s journey has been nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. The company went from record-breaking investments and an acquisition spree to failed business experiments and devaluations—only to bounce back.
Here are the key milestones in the journey of the third-most-funded private company in the world.
|October 2007||Flipkart’s first order goes out to a customer in Mahbubnagar (now in the southern state of Telangana). In the first year, Flipkart makes 20 shipments.|
|September 2009||Raises $1 million in its first funding round from Accel Partners. The company’s total headcount hits 150.|
|~ 2010||Launches the cash on delivery option, which gave a massive boost to online retail in India.|
|December 2010||First acquisition: buys book recommendation and review platform weRead.com.|
|October 2011||Acquires Mallers Inc (Mime360), a digital music store company, in a cash and stock deal.|
|November 2011||Acquires Accel Partners-backed Chakpak.com, a Bollywood news site that offers news, photos, and videos.|
|February 2012||Launches Flyte, a digital music store where users can discover and download music.|
|February 2012||Acquires Letsbuy.com, the country’s second-largest online electronics retailer at the time. The deal was reportedly valued at around $25 million.|
|April 2013||Moves to a marketplace model from an inventory-led model, where a company no longer owns the goods sold through its portal. Instead, it turns its portal into a virtual mall, giving consumers access to multiple sellers and brands.|
|May 2013||Shuts its music store Flyte MP3. “We have realised that the music downloads business in India will not reach scale unless several problem areas such as music piracy and easy micro-payments, etc. are solved in great depth… (we will) revisit the digital music market opportunity at a later stage,” the company said at the time.|
|July 2013||Launches PayZippy, an online payments solution for merchants, and reveals plans to launch a customer-facing payments product soon.|
|July 2013||Raises $200 million in the single-largest funding round in the Indian e-commerce space at the time, valuing the company at $1.5 billion. Investors in this round include South African internet company Naspers, Accel Partners, Tiger Global, and Iconiq Capital.|
|September 2013||Launches an Android app.|
|October 2013||Raises $160 million from Dragoneer Investment Group, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Sofina, Vulcan Capital, and Tiger Global.|
|July 2014||Raises $1 billion from Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, and some existing investors, making this the biggest single funding round by an Indian internet company at the time.|
|May 2014||Raises $210 million in a round led by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s fund DST Global.|
|May 2014||Acquires online lifestyle retailer Myntra.com for $300 million. Flipkart gets valued at around $2 billion and has a GMV of $1.9 billion. The GMV is the total value of goods sold on an e-commerce portal.|
|September 2014||Acquires majority stake in payments platform Ngpay.|
|October 2014||Launches its flagship annual sale: the Big Billion Day.|
The “Big” in “Big Billion Day” stands for the audacity and largeness of the event, while “billion” refers to the population of India, the company said.
|November 2014||Shuts PayZippy due to “a change in strategic direction” and merges it with Ngpay.|
|November 2014||Acquires majority stake in Jeeves Consumer Services, which provides after-sales services for large home appliances and electronics.|
|December 2014||Raises $700 million from existing as well as new investors, including Baillie Gifford, Greenoaks Capital, Steadview Capital, T Rowe Price Associates, and Qatar Investment Authority. The company is valued at around $11 billion.|
|March 2015||Flipkart and Myntra shut their mobile websites in an attempt to become an app-only shopping platform.|
|March 2015||Acquires Sequoia Capital-backed mobile advertising company AdIquity.|
|April 2015||Says will shut its desktop website soon, too, and go app-only.|
|April 2015||Acquires mobile marketing firm AppIterate to support its “mobile-first strategy.”|
|May 2015||Raises $500 million at a valuation of $15.5 billion.|
|June 2015||Introduces a new maternity, paternity, and adoption leave policy that is far better than most Indian companies have until then.|
|July 2015||Raises $700 million in its tenth funding round at a valuation of $15 billion.|
|September 2015||Acquires payment services startup FX Mart for about $6.8 million.|
|November 2015||Takes a u-turn on its mobile-only strategy. Launches a data-light mobile website called ”Flipkart Lite.”|
|November 2015||Invests in Qikpod, a then yet-to-be-launched startup that planned to offer locker service for deliveries.|
|January 2016||Binny Bansal takes over as the CEO, replacing Sachin Bansal, who becomes the company’s executive chairman.|
|March 2016||Morgan Stanley trims Flipkart’s valuation by 27%.|
|April 2016||T Rowe Price cuts the value of its holding in Flipkart by 15%.|
|April 2016||Time magazine names Flipkart’s founders among 100 most–influential people in the world.|
|April 2016||Acquires UPI-based payments start-up PhonePe, which was launched in December 2015 by three former Flipkart employees.|
|January 2017||For the first time since its inception, Flipkart appoints a non-founding CEO, Kalyan Krishnamurthy, a former executive with investor Tiger Global.|
|April 2017||Raises $1.4 billion from Chinese internet firm Tencent, American online retailer eBay, and software giant Microsoft. Also acquires eBay in exchange for equity. eBay continues to operate as an independent entity.|
|August 2017||Softbank’s $100 billion Vision Fund invests $1.5 billion in the company to become one of its largest shareholders.|