Published On: Mon, Mar 20th, 2017

Snapdeal appointed Jason Kothari as new CEO of its digital payments platform

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Snapdeal has named Jason Kothari as the new chief executive of its digital payments platform, FreeCharge, a little less than a month after former CEO Govind Rajan quit the company.
The SoftBank, Foxconn and Alibaba Group-backed company has also committed to invest an additional $20 million (about Rs 133 crore) in FreeCharge, which will, according to the company statement, be used to “accelerate innovation and growth.” It did not, however, provide further details.
According to an official statement from the company, Kothari, who joined Snapdeal in January earlier this year, from online real estate portal Housing.com, will, however, continue to be chief strategy and investment officer at Snapdeal. He will also join the FreeCharge Board.
“We remain committed to the success and vision of FreeCharge. Jason is a strong, strategic and versatile business leader and entrepreneur who has already been the CEO of two successful companies. We are delighted to announce his leadership role at FreeCharge,” Snapdeal CEO Kunal Bahl said.
“The digital payments space in India is forecasted to be over $1 trillion by 2025. I’m excited to join the talented team at FreeCharge at such a high-growth and dynamic time in the industry and expect FreeCharge to continue to play a key role in this digital payments revolution,” Kothari was quoted as stating in the press release.
Post Rajan’s resignation in February, Kothari was widely anticipated to be named as the new CEO of the company. Rajan, a senior executive at Bharti Airtel, and who had initially joined Snapdeal July 2015, spent about nine months heading FreeCharge, having taken over in May last year.
At the time of Rajan’s stepping down, Snapdeal had said that Kothari would oversee the business operations of FreeCharge, as part of his overall responsibilities of portfolio management
A combination of valuation mismatches, reluctance to cede control and the ongoing reluctance of global investors to pump in further capital in the country’s consumer-facing startups have been cited as the primary hurdles for a successful closure of any potential deal.
Additionally, Snapdeal’s commitment to invest an additional $20 million in FreeCharge comes at a time when the Gurgaon-based Unicorn which has been on the road for almost 18 months to raise external money for its payments platform, has found it difficult to rope in investors-strategic or financial-to back the unit.
Freecharge, which was acquired by Jasper Infotech in a cash-and-stock deal estimated at $400-$450 million in 2015, making it, at the time, the largest startup acquisition in India, is a focal point of the ecommerce marketplace’s growth strategy, as it bids to create a complete online ecosystem of goods and services.
Since January, the company has pumped in Rs 420 crore into FreeCharge, according to documents filed with the Registrar of Companies, and as per data collated by Tofler, a leading corporate research and monitoring platform.

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