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Flipkart becomes world's third-most funded private firm

12 August 2017

With the $2.4-billion it has lately received from Japanese technology investor SoftBank, India's ecommerce leader Flipkart has become the third most-funded private company globally, after the top two - both ride hailing platforms - China-based Didi Chuxing and US-based Uber.

The Indian company has to date raised almost $7 billion in capital, higher than global behemoths like online rental house aggregator Airbnb ($3.3 billion) and mobile phone maker Xiaomi ($1.4 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.

Flipkart is the only e-commerce company in the top 10. The Flipkart funding reaffirms the faith of global players like SoftBank, Tiger Global, eBay, and Microsoft in Indian companies.

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.

While Amazon's Jeff Bezos has committed $5 billion to the Indian business, Flipkart now has $4 billion in the bank after Japanese investor SoftBank's infusion of close to $2.5 billion.

In April, Flipkart raised $1.4 billion from Tencent, eBay and Microsoft at a valuation of $11.6 billion.

The funding round further solidifies Flipkart's balance sheet and will help accelerate investment in driving continued market leadership, it added.

Amazon and Flipkart have been pumping in millions of dollars to strengthen infrastructure as well as bring more sellers and buyers online. While Flipkart has now raised close to $4 billion this year, Amazon pumped in about $600 million across various units in India since January this year.

Nitin Sharma, principal and founding member of early-stage venture capital fund Lightbox,  told The Times of India ecommerce in India consumes a lot of capital. "With macro income growth and scale, unit economics will become attractive over five-10 years," he said.

However, K Vaitheeswaran, co-founder of India's first ecommerce company Fabmart (later IndiaPlaza), thinks more funding need not necessarily be a positive sign. "Despite the down-rounds across the startup ecosystem, the madness continues. This will run for two-three years. SoftBank has obviously given the money to Flipkart not for being prudent, but for splurging to take out Amazon," he said.

He added that when aggregators are up against real technology companies, it is difficult to win by out-funding. "You have to win by outcompeting. Money will take you only till the semi-final and increases your mathematical probability," he said.

In valuation, Flipkart stands at the ninth position with about $15 billion. Uber is the most valued company at $68 billion, followed by Didi Chuxing at $50 billion, and Xiaomi at $46 billion.

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