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MakeMyTrip CEO Rajesh Magow rejoins Flipkart board after 2 years

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-09-2017 Anirban Sen

Bengaluru: Rajesh Magow, co-founder and chief executive officer of MakeMyTrip Inc., has rejoined the board of India’s largest online retailer Flipkart Ltd, two years after giving up his board seat.

Magow’s appointment comes at a time when Flipkart has finished raising $2.8 billion in fresh funding in two separate tranches from SoftBank, Tencent, eBay and Microsoft this year. This funding is likely to be the last before a potential public offering.

Flipkart wanted to bring back Magow, who was chief financial officer at MakeMyTrip before becoming CEO, partly with a view toward such an initial public offering (IPO) at some point in the future, according to three people familiar with Magow’s appointment, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Magow helped take MakeMyTrip public in 2010, making it the first Indian Internet firm to list its shares in the US.

Magow also has a good working relationship with Flipkart CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy as well as co-founders Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal, the people said.

MakeMyTrip has deep links with Tiger Global Management, Krishnamurthy’s former employer that is still the most influential investor at Flipkart. Tiger Global was one of the biggest backers of MakeMyTrip and its managing director Lee Fixel is known to be close to both Magow and Deep Kalra, chairman of MakeMyTrip.

“Flipkart’s current board needed people with a strong finance background—and that’s a gap that someone like Magow fills,” said one of the three people mentioned above. The second of the three said Flipkart wants to beef up its board with more executives who have expertise in areas such as corporate finance, governance and technology.

MakeMyTrip confirmed Magow’s re-appointment on the board of Flipkart.

“I have always admired Flipkart for the impact it has made in India’s e-commerce space over the years, so, happy to join Flipkart board,” Magow said in a statement emailed to Mint. A Flipkart spokesperson confirmed the development.

Other board members at Flipkart include the Bansals, Krishnamurthy, Fixel and former Dropbox technology chief Aditya Agarwal.

Over the course of the next few weeks and months, SoftBank will name a representative on Flipkart’s board, which includes representatives from two other Flipkart investors, Accel Partners and Naspers.

Magow had first joined Flipkart’s board in March 2011, months after Flipkart’s first major fundraise from Tiger Global. At the time, Flipkart was primarily a seller of books and electronics, and the overall size of the Indian e-commerce market was less than $50 million.

He left the board in May 2015 after a one-year period, in which Flipkart had raised roughly $2.5 billion in capital. At that time, Flipkart was trying to shift its business model and become more of a so-called product company from its roots as an Indian version of Amazon.com, the giant American online retailer.

Flipkart’s attempt to beef up its board comes at a time when it is locked in a defining market-share battle with Amazon’s India business. According to experts tracking e-commerce, companies such as Flipkart need more experienced corporate leaders on their boards to help them become more mature companies.

Flipkart, which has more than $4 billion in cash, has so far raised over $6 billion from investors since it started out in 2007, while Amazon has committed to spend at least $5 billion in growing its India business.

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