The Economic Times
BENGALURU: Investment firms Helion Venture Partners and IDG Ventures India have sold stakes in Flipkart in deals that value India’s largest online retailer at $12.5 billion (Rs 77,000 crore), according to two people involved in the deals.
Helion, which got a stake in the Bengaluru-based company by virtue of its investment in online electronics retailer LetsBuy that was acquired by Flipkart in 2012, has sold its entire stake of 0.2 per cent, estimated to be worth Rs 156 crore. IDG Ventures, which entered Flipkart through fashion portal Myntra that was bought last year, has shed a portion of its holding of 1 per cent by selling stake worth nearly Rs 940 crore last month. IDG still holds about 0.9 per cent stake in Flipkart.
ET could not independently ascertain the buyers in both these transactions. Last month, ET was the first to report that Flipkart was seeking a valuation of $15 billion as it prepares the ground for a fresh round of fund-raising led by its largest investor Tiger Global.
Helion declined comment on the developments while IDG Ventures and Flipkart did not respond to email queries.
Industry experts are of the view that the stake sales are happening at a time funding cycles are expected to taper off in India’s redhot ecommerce sector, where the top three firms mopped up nearly Rs 31,000 crore ($5 billion) of funding in 2014.
Flipkart, founded by former Amazon employees Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, saw its valuation leapfrog from Rs 16,120 crore ($2.6 billion) in May 2014 to about Rs 68,000 crore ($11 billion) by December when it raised $700 million led by Steadview Capital. It is now aiming to raise Rs 10,500 crore ($1.7 billion) through this year, with Tiger Global expected to lead the investment.
The company is aiming to sell goods worth $8 billion in 2014-15 and competes against Amazon and Snapdeal.
“Valuations aren’t going in those crazy multiples anymore,” said one person directly involved in the stake sale.
By, Kathleen Schaub
Robert sits in an office near Provo, Utah at what looks like the console of an air traffic controller. But instead of directing jets through the airspace, he’s using Twitter to guide a software company’s buyer through her decision-journey. Part marketer, part sales, part tech service, Robert is one of an emerging breed of “virtual” sales reps. Could this be the dream team that B2B has been waiting for?
The B2B “Genius Bar”® as a Role Model
The “virtual” sales rep role in its ideal form provides the personalized, anticipatory, service of a five-star hotel. Think of it as the B2B version of an Apple Genius Bar – using virtual tools. The Apple executive team modeled the Genius Bar after Ritz-Carlton’s customer service. Hallmarks of this exemplary concierge service include a personal touch; a warm, friendly, attitude; and attention to satisfying customer needs at every step. Sales expert Anneke Seley says the “virtual” sales rep culture is a far-cry from the historical “me and my quota” rep.
Sales teams are finally coming to grips with digital age facts. The culture shift recognizes that engagement must be sensitive to the appropriate stage of the buyer’s decision-journey. “Buyers aren’t ready to buy until they are ready to buy”. Marketers all know by now that buyers prefer self-sufficiency and they avoid talking to sales people until the decision-journey is substantially complete. IDC research shows that for tech products averages this distance averages about 50%. Now sales is also starting to appreciate that buyers are alienated when by placed prematurely into the arena. At the same time sales leaders don’t want to waste an expensive sales resource on someone who isn’t ready to buy.
Digital May Not be Enough
Content marketing is what companies must do to fill the gap when buyers won’t talk to traditional sales people. Content marketing is a hugely important communication strategy and companies will not be successful without mastering it.
Yet, for B2B companies, a completely digital engagement solution may not ever be the right answer. For one thing, content marketing capabilities in most companies is still ramping. Even when content marketing becomes excellent, digital may never be personal enough. Some B2B solutions are so complex, customized, or require so much trust that a human must intervene for the buyer to be truly served. It may also be in the vendor’s best interest to involve a good sales person early. One tech CMO told me that although the company could offer eCommerce, a human touch tripled the size of the deal.