SoftBank invests at least $2.5 bn in Flipkart; biggest ever investment in Indian internet space

Flipkart said the SoftBank investment, which is the biggest-ever private investment in an Indian technology company, will make the Vision Fund one of the largest shareholders in the online retailer. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

India’s largest Internet firm Flipkart Ltd has raised at least $2.5 billion from SoftBank Vision Fund, scaling up its firepower in the fight with arch rival Amazon India for dominance over India’s e-commerce market.

The latest round of funding takes Flipkart’s cash reserves to more than $4 billion. Flipkart didn’t disclose the amount, but said that the SoftBank investment comprises a mix of primary (investment in the company) and secondary capital (purchase of shares from existing shareholders).

SoftBank invested at least $2.5 billion in Flipkart, three people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. Mint and other publications had reported for months that SoftBank would invest more than $1.5 billion in Flipkart by putting in fresh capital and buying shares from Tiger Global Management, Flipkart’s largest shareholder.

Flipkart has now raised more than $6 billion in cash since starting out in 2007, by far the highest by any Indian start-up and among the highest by any start-up globally. Flipkartraised $1.4 billion from Tencent Holdings Ltd, eBay Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in April.

The SoftBank investment comes after Flipkart’s proposed takeover of Snapdeal, the Japanese investor’s portfolio company, collapsed last week.

“This is a monumental deal for Flipkart and India. Very few economies globally attract such overwhelming interest from top-tier investors. It is recognition of India’s unparalleled potential to become a leader in technology and e-commerce on a massive scale. SoftBank’s proven track record of partnering with transformative technology leaders has earned it the reputation of being a visionary investor,” Flipkart co-founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal said in a joint statement.

The investment will likely make SoftBank the largest investor in Flipkart and reduce the influence of Tiger Global, whose representative Kalyan Krishnamurthy is Flipkart’s CEO.

In the space of four months, SoftBank has struck two deals that have changed the dynamics of India’s Internet business and made the Japanese investor the most powerful and influential entity in the start-up ecosystem. In May, SoftBank, which is also the largest shareholder in cab hailing firm Ola, invested $1.4 billion in digital payments firm Paytm.

Already, some analysts and investors are saying that SoftBank may orchestrate a mega-merger between Paytm and Flipkart at some point in the future.

The SoftBank investment in Flipkart is part of the company’s latest financing round;

“We want to support innovative companies that are clear winners in India because they are best positioned to leverage technology and help people lead better lives. As the pioneers in Indian e-commerce, Flipkart is doing that every day,” said Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Group Corp.

While expectations around the size of India’s e-commerce have significantly diminished from the heady estimates of 2015, it is still considered the last big e-commerce market left. Flipkart is the only local start-up that is seen as serious competition to Amazon India over the long term.

With its financing round in April and the latest SoftBank investment, Flipkart has settled the debate over its ability to take on Amazon. Its prospects have also lifted over the past nine months as it has seen a resurgence in sales


Twitter Opts to Keep 140-Character Limit in Place – For Now at Least

Mark this down as one less reason for uproar amongst Twitter users. In an interview on The Today Show this morning, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed that the 140-character limit for tweets will remain unchanged. When asked directly about the possibility of the 140-character limit being lifted, Dorsey said:

“It’s staying. It’s a good constraint for us. It allows for ‘of-the-moment’ brevity.”

Dorsey noted that while they are looking to change a lot of things as part of their ongoing efforts to make Twitter better, the 140 character limit would not be one of them. At least for now.

This comes after Dorsey himself fuelled speculation of a possible lifting of the character limit with this tweet back in January.

This style of tweet is something that’s been on the increase, people posting long snippets of text within an image attached to a tweet, effectively hacking the 140 character limit. Given that users are already doing this, and that Twitter would benefit from being able to actually search and utilize the full data of these longer missives, the speculation was that Twitter would look to extend tweets in the same way they’d already done with Direct Messages (of which the limits were boosted to 10,000 characters back in August).

But, of course, as with any proposed change on Twitter, the platform’s passionate user base had opinions.

People were none too pleased with the suggestion that tweets might be extended – imagine long, 2,000+ word tweets clogging up your timeline, being flooded with massive promotional messages from spammers, the size of which would effectively render the platform useless. Reports suggested that the idea being discussed didn’t exactly match these concerns – longer tweets were more likely to look something like this (below), with an option to ‘read more’ at the end:

But regardless, users fired off their complaints, their concerns, their ideas for how to make Twitter better – of which Dorsey and Co could surely never be in short supply.

So no need for a new #RIPTwitter movement, no need to issue a new set of problems for Twitter to prioritize instead of longer tweets (an edit option?) – Dorsey says everything’s all good. For now.

But for those who are aching to share their concerns/ideas/thoughts, don’t worry. The next Twitter update controversy is never too far away.

[Source:- Socialmediatoday]