Flipkart commenced a $700 million "one-time discretionary" cash payout to employees on Friday, the single-largest such compensation in the Indian startup ecosystem.
The Walmart-backed Bengaluru-headquartered startup is compensating employees for the separation of fintech PhonePe from the e-commerce group, a move that devalued Flipkart's shares.
The two firms completed a full ownership separation late last year in a deal that was structured to allow shareholders in the Singapore entities of both firms to purchase shares directly in PhonePe’s India entity. PhonePe, in addition to separating from Flipkart, has also moved its headquarters to India and raised $850 million in recent quarters as it bulks its war chest and enters new categories, including e-commerce.
In an email to employees earlier Friday, Flipkart Group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy said the "much-awaited compensation will be made today." He added: "We have exciting times ahead, and as we continue to grow across businesses, I look forward to your continued dedication and determination to bring about the future that we envision and scale new heights together."
A Flipkart spokesperson told TechCrunch that the payout had been made. More than 20,000 current and former employees are receiving the payout.
The payout comes at a time when Flipkart has contemplated another round of financing from investors. The firm, which competes against Amazon in India, raised $3.6 billion at a valuation of $37.6 billion in mid-2021. Flipkart, which also counts Tiger Global and SoftBank among its backers, has already exhausted most of that capital, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Flipkart has also been looking to file for an initial public offering for several years, but has deferred the plan due to the ongoing poor market conditions.
The firm's chief rival, in the meantime, is slowing down its growth in India and shutting down some business lines. Amazon said last month that it intends to invest $15 billion in India by 2030 -- $12.7 billion of which it has earmarked for AWS.
Both the firms are facing competition from Reliance, the Indian conglomerate that also runs the nation's largest retail chain. The firm, run by Asia's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is poised to eventually outpace Amazon and Flipkart in the race for the country’s $150 billion e-commerce market, brokerage firm Bernstein projected in May this year.
Bernstein’s projection hinges on a quartet of compelling advantages that they argue will propel Reliance to the top: a robust retail network, a sweeping mobile network, a holistic digital ecosystem and a “home field advantage” in a notoriously challenging regulatory landscape. These factors should help Reliance seize the majority of the massive e-commerce market in the longer run, the brokerage firm said.