In War For Tal­ent, In­dia’s Top E-com­merce Star­tups Are Raid­ing Sil­i­con Val­ley

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In­dia’s thriv­ing home­grown e-com­merce star­tups are in­creas­ingly trekking to the Sil­i­con Val­ley in search of top-notch tal­ent. This her­alds the re­ver­sal of a decades-long hir­ing trend – un­til now the best In­dian en­gi­neers headed to the tech­nol­ogy firms in the Bay Area be­cause of a dearth of op­por­tu­ni­ties at home.

Ro­hit Bansal, co-founder and COO of Snapdeal, told Forbes that he is ar­riv­ing in San Fran­cisco this week to in­ter­view a hun­dred of the Val­ley’s star tech­nol­o­gists. The New Delhi-head­quar­tered Snapdeal, backed by SoftBank, Black­Rock and eBay among oth­ers, will re­cruit up to a dozen ex­ec­u­tives for its op­er­a­tions in Ban­ga­lore and New Delhi. “In­dia is ul­tra-ex­cit­ing, the e-com­merce mar­ket here is ex­pand­ing at a faster pace than even the United States so the ca­reer up­side is huge for th­ese ex­ec­u­tives,” Bansal said. As a re­sult, the head hunt­ing sce­nario for In­dia’s star­tups is start­ing bet­ter than ever be­fore. “Word has got around that In­dia is hap­pen­ing and that all the growth and thrill is here. There is a lot of in­ter­est,” he said.

Bansal, who teamed up with school buddy Kunal Bahl to launch Snapdeal five years ago, said In­dia has a huge base of raw tal­ent (the startup is hir­ing 1,000 en­gi­neers for its R&D cen­ter in Ban­ga­lore). “But we are look­ing to hire cat­a­lysts who can raise the bar and help us build the plat­form we en­vi­sion.”

This spells a brain gain or re­verse brain drain to Ban­ga­lore, In­dia’s own tech­nol­ogy hub. The coun­try’s big­gest on­line re­tailer and Snapdeal ri­val, Flip­kart, backed by the likes of Tiger Global and Naspers, has hired two Google en­gi­neer­ing VPs, Peeyush Ran­jan and Pu­nit Soni, who have re­lo­cated from Moun­tain View to Flip­kart’s new of­fices in Ban­ga­lore’s Outer Ring Road. Flip­kart’s sub­sidiary, the fash­ion por­tal Myn­tra is go­ing on a tal­ent hunt in the Sil­i­con Val­ley, its CEO Mukesh Bansal said ear­lier this month.

Snapdeal it­self has just snagged its first Sil­i­con Val­ley hire. For­mer Cisco and Sy­man­tec ex­ec­u­tive Gau­rav Gupta joined this week as vice pres­i­dent of en­gi­neer­ing. Restau­rant dis­cov­ery por­tal Zo­mato hired Namita Gupta, Face­book’s En­gi­neer­ing Part­ner for Games as its chief prod­uct of­fi­cer.

Snapdeal’s Bansal said his firm is look­ing to ramp up tal­ent in three dis­tinct ar­eas – prod­uct man­age­ment ex­perts who can help build prod­ucts, de­sign en­gi­neers who can de­sign for first-gen­er­a­tion mo­bile in­ter­net users and en­gi­neer­ing ar­chi­tects who can help han­dle the mas­sive scale.

Quite be­sides the ex­cite­ment, the jobs at In­dian star­tups are at­trac­tive on other counts as well. Flush with in­vestor funds, th­ese firms are of­fer­ing Sil­i­con Val­ley salaries and at­trac­tive stock op­tions.

“To­day we are hir­ing for Ban­ga­lore, to­mor­row we could be hir­ing for our Sil­i­con Val­ley ex­pan­sion,” hinted Bansal.

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