In Pu­nit Soni Exit, Flip­kart Loses Its High-pro­file Hire

The Economic Times - - Disruption: -

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.

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