In Punit Soni Exit, Flipkart Loses Its High-profile Hire
Aditi Shrivastava & Madhav Chanchani
Bengaluru: Punit Soni, the chief product officer of Flipkart has quit his post at the startup a year after joining the company, according to three sources familiar with the development.
Soni, a former Google executive with expertise in mobile technology, was the most high-profile recruitment made by the Bengaluru-based company. He helped build products such as Ping, a chat application on the mobile app, and relaunch its mobile website, Flipkart Lite. Along with Soni, his chief of staff Niket Desai who also joined the etailer from Google has quit as well.
His exit, which ends months of speculation on his exact moves, comes at a time when Flipkart has seen a management overhaul following several top-level exits, including that of commerce platform head Mukesh Bansal. Since then, Flipkart’s new CEO Binny Bansal has reassigned roles of top executives across functions like engineering and supply chain.
A Flipkart spokesperson confirmed that Soni is leaving the company, adding that Friday, April15, will be his last day at the company. Soni also confirmed the development when contacted by ET.
Soni’s recruitment in early 2015 was followed by other top hires, including chief technology officer Peeyush Ranjan and consumer experience head Surojit Chatterjee, both former Google executives from Silicon Valley.
Later in the year, Flipkart and its fashion unit Myntra also launched a mobile application, only strategy based, on the need to cater to a fast-growing customer segment that was transacting on their phones. While the strategy was successful in garnering attention towards a critical platform-mobile, it also resulted in the online retailer losing market share to rivals on desktop, according to sources aware of the de- velopments. This, said a person privy to the thinking in the company, could have resulted in Soni’s exit finally. ET was unable to independently confirm these developments. In January, Flipkart had said in a statement to ET that “Punit will transition from his current role to work with Binny Bansal, CEO of Flipkart on company-wide initiatives”. However, the company never clarified his new role. Besides Mukesh Bansal and Soni, other executives who have quit Flipkart this year include chief business officer Ankit Nagori and Manish Maheshwari who was head of its seller marketplace and ecosystem.
With departure of these executives, Binny Bansal has assigned leadership responsibilities among several executives. Ranjan, is now head of the engineering unit across units like commerce, supply chain and advertising. Saikiran Krishnamurthy, who was hired as chief operating officer (COO) of commerce unit from McKinsey last year, was named head of logistics unit Ekart and head of aftersales & seller services in the commerce unit.