Flipkart's latest funding by Japanese telecom and investment banking giant SoftBank has raised it to third position among the most funded private firms in the world, according to a The Times of India (TOI) report on Saturday.
The Bengaluru-headquartered e-commerce company has till date raised almost $7 billion in capital, higher than that raised by global behemoths like online house rental aggregator Airbnb ($3.3 billion) and mobile phone maker Xiaomi ($1.4 billion).
With the $2.4 billion from SoftBank, Flipkart has become the third most funded private company globally after ride-hailing platforms China-based Didi Chuxing and US-based Uber, TOI said.
In April, Didi Chuxing raised $5 billion and increased its total fund raise to $15 billion, overtaking Uber that has raised $12.9 billion. Four of the companies in the top 10 are ride-hailing platforms, the other two being Silicon Valley-based Lyft and India's Ola. Flipkart is the only e-commerce company in the top 10.
Flipkart's current valuation of about $15 billion places it at the ninth position on the list of highly funded companies. Uber is the most valued company at $68 billion, followed by Didi Chuxing at $50 billion, and Xiaomi at $46 billion.
TOI quoted Nitin Sharma, principal and founding member with venture capital fund Lightbox, as saying that the valuation of a company is a function of a lot of things. "Businesses that have more capital efficiency than others are valued more," he said.
Sharma noted that since Flipkart has been the flag-bearer for the local ecosystem, its leading position among highly funded companies of the world reinforces the positive belief around the long-term India opportunity.
The VC ecosystem, he told TOI, eventually needs to show a large-value creation event, and seeing SoftBank, Tencent and others go long should allay some of the concerns which have been dampening the sentiment locally and giving global investors some pause.
The Flipkart funding reaffirms the faith of global players like SoftBank, Tiger Global, eBay , and Microsoft in Indian companies, TOI said in its report.
Nitin Sharma of Lightbox said that e-commerce in India consume a lot of capital, and with macro income growth and scale, unit economics would become more attractive over a 5-10 year period.
However, K Vaitheeswaran, co-founder of India's first e-commerce company Fabmart, was quoted in the report as saying that SoftBank had given the money to Flipkart for not being prudent, but instead for "splurging money to take out Amazon".
Vaitheeswaran said that when aggregators are up against real technology companies, it would be difficult to win by out-funding. "You have to win by outcompeting. Money will take you only till the semi-final and increases your mathematical probability," he said.