No More FreeCharge for Chief Exec Govind Ra­jan

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Biswarup.Gooptu @times­

New Delhi: Govind Ra­jan, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Jasper In­fotech-owned dig­i­tal pay­ments plat­form FreeCharge, has re­signed from the com­pany, ac­cord­ing to sources.

Calls, texts and emails sent to Ra­jan and Jasper In­fotech spokesper­sons ask­ing for con­fir­ma­tion of the devel­op­ment, did not elicit any re­sponse at the time of go­ing to press. Ac­cord­ing to the sources cited above, Ra­jan sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion on Tues­day, and has been ac­cepted by the Jasper In­fotech lead­er­ship. The ex­act rea­sons for Ra­jan’s de­par­ture from the com­pany, or his plans go­ing for­ward are still un­clear. If con­firmed, this will be the lat­est top-level exit from the Jasper In­fotech sta­ble, which also owns and op­er­ates on­line mar­ket­place Snapdeal. It may also be the most high-pro­file res­ig­na­tion since the de­par­ture of Anand Chan­drasekaran, the com­pany’s prod­uct head in May last year. In Septem­ber, Chan­drasekaran joined Face­book as its head of plat­form and prod­uct part­ner­ships, with a par­tic­u­lar fo­cus on its Mes­sen­ger ser­vice. Ra­jan, who had joi- ned Jasper In­fotech in July 2015, ini­tially held the role of chief strat­egy of­fi­cer at Snapdeal. How­ever, the for­mer Bharti Air­tel se­nior ex­ec­u­tive, who had served as chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer for Bharti’s B2C busi­ness as well as CEO of Air­tel Money, took over the top job at FreeCharge in May last year.

That tran­si­tion also saw Kunal Shah, co­founder of FreeCharge, step down from his role as CEO of the com­pany, and as­sume a non­op­er­a­tional role as chair­man and chief men­tor of the com­pany.

Ear­lier this month, ET re­ported that Shah had joined mar­que ven­ture cap­i­tal firm Se­quoia Cap­i­tal as an advisor, and is ex­pected to play an ac­tive role in men­tor­ing Se­quoia’s large port­fo­lio spread across In­dia and South Asia. FreeCharge, which was ac­quired by Jasper In­fotech in a cash-and­stock deal es­ti­mated at $400-$450


mil­lion in 2015, mak­ing it, at the time, the largest startup acquisition in In­dia, is seen as a fo­cal point of ecom­merce mar­ket­place's growth strat­egy, as it bids to cre­ate a com­plete on­line ecosys­tem of goods and ser­vices.

Jasper In­fotech, has been in ne­go­ti­a­tions for over 18 months with mul­ti­ple in­vestors — both, strate­gic and fi­nan­cial — to raise $150$300 mil­lion in fresh cap­i­tal for its dig­i­tal pay­ments plat­form. How­ever, the com­pany is yet to close the round, which was first re­ported by ET in Oc­to­ber 2015.

Like its Ben­galuru-based ri­val, Flip­kart, Snapdeal, too, has con­tin­ued to see a steady churn of its top lead­er­ship. The last few months have seen the de­par­ture of Ab­hishek Ku­mar, Jasper’s head of cor­po­rate devel­op­ment and merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, San­deep Ko­mar­avelly, who headed Shopo, the con­sumer-to-con­sumer on­line plat­form for small sell­ers, and Tony Navin, who led Snapdeal’s part­ner­ships and strate­gic ini­tia­tives, among oth­ers.

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