Flipkart to invest $25 mn in Silicon Valley startups to ramp up deep-tech play

Flipkart to invest $25 mn in Silicon Valley startups to ramp up deep-tech play
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle
6 Feb, 2018

Domestic e-commerce player Flipkart is looking to invest $25 million (Rs 160 crore) in Silicon Valley to improve its technology stack by focusing on deep technology, a report in a financial daily said.

The e-tailer is looking to invest in an artificial intelligence startup that will help the company take on its rival Amazon in India, The Economic Times reported, citing an individual in the know. “They (Flipkart) are looking at tech acquisitions in the valley because differentiated tech is a new focus area for the company,” the person mentioned above was quoted as telling ET. “The idea is to bring these Indian tech founders from the US who can bring deep technology capabilities that don’t exist in India,” the person explained.

According to the person above, Flipkart’s technology infrastructure is not as developed as Amazon’s. “Even as of 2015, Flipkart’s catalogue management system was broken,” the person told ET.

Flipkart’s interest in deep-tech startups comes a month after financial daily Mint reported that the homegrown e-commerce player will set up an artificial intelligence unit called AIforIndia to strengthen its business offerings.

The report stated that AIforIndia will be led by chief data scientist Mayur Datar alongside chairman and co-founder Sachin Bansal and chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy.

Bansal had said then that the firm would look to make acquisitions in AI in India and the US. In June last year, Flipkart acquired Silicon Valley startup F7 Labs, which is working on an AI project named Mira.

Following its announcement to sell financial products and services on its platform last year, Flipkart reshuffled its team. It appointed its chief technology head, Ravi Garikipati, as head of the fin-tech department and gave its CEO Krishnamurthy the reins of its engineering division.