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Flipkart brings back interim CFO Kalyan Krishnamurthy to head category management

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In a bid to strengthen (or re-strengthen I’d rather say) its top managerial tiers, Flipkart is bringing back former CFO Kalyan Krishnamurthy to take charge of a key role in the e-commerce giant. This will be a relief, considering the series of top-level exits which India’s largest, but also the more struggling ecommmerce company had to witness recently.

Kalyan, who is currently with investment firm Tiger Global as a Managing Director, will be taking charge of category management at Flipkart. Kalyan previously worked with eBay as an executive working hand to hand with the Asian markets. He later joined Tiger Global as director of finance for portfolio companies in 2011, before joining Flipkart as an interim CFO in 2013.

Kalyan will play a crucial role in turning the company into a positive enterprise while also fending off Amazon, which recently increased its India commitments to $5 Billion from $2 Billion.

Also, the timing of the appointment makes his role all the more important. The festive season, which sees Indians embark on a shopping spree is around the corner. It may just help determine a clear leader in one of the world’s most lucrative e-commerce markets.

Speaking on the appointment, a Flipkart spokesperson said,

The decision to bring back an old time Flipkart-hand-Kalyan-to strengthen our leadership team,was taken by the management team led by Binny (Bansal). Kalyan will head category design organisation and will report to Binny.

Meanwhile, the list of executives reporting to Kalyan includes names like Amit Bansal(head of large appliances), Rishi Vasudev(fashion) and Adarsh Menon(electronics & automobiles division). Understandably, Kalyan is joining Flipkart in a very key role that seems to have significantly expanded in importance since his last stint at the company.

Kalyan also holds board positions in Tiger Global’s portfolio companies like logistics company Delhivery, jewellery retailer Caratlane and hyper-local electronics shopping app Zopper. So it will be interesting to see what sort of arrangement is worked out between Flipkart, Tiger Global and its portfolio companies.

The appointment will also mean a respite for Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Samardeep Subandh, who joined the company from Marico in December 2015 and was looking after category management. He will now be able to focus his full attention on marketing and has been given an “an expanded role” in the category that includes digital and performance marketing as well.

Meanwhile, the appointment is keeping in line with CEO Binny Bansal’s tendency to bring back veterans to replace the members of the top hierarchy who have increasingly been ditching the company. E-commerce platform head Mukesh Bansal, Chief business officer Ankit Nagori and Chief product officer Punit Soni are among some of the top level executives who have left or are leaving the company since Binny’s anointment as CEO in January.

Meanwhile, Kalyan has a well established reputation for efficiency and is widely respected for his analytical abilities.

Kalayan is a very analytical man. He’s going to work at bringing in efficiencies and optimisations in the marketplace categories.

The fact that he has already been associated with Flipkart, first through Tiger Global — who is an investor in Flipkart — and then, more intimately as its interim CFO should certainly help him adjust faster. And Flipkart is going to need all of his talents to get out of the recent string of troubles the company has found itself into, including a markdown in valuation, exiting executives and stiff competition.

A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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