Why Bansals of Flipkart Need Personality Cult

Chinese Internet giant Alibaba’s hugely anticipated public listing in the US has generated a steady stream of stories. About its storied chairman and co-founder Jack Ma, known for his classy quotes. It has also thrown up narratives on  Joseph Tsai who is hell-bent on realising Ma’s copious ideas. Consumer internet businesses,  especially those with voracious burn rates, have been built around cult personalities. Rockstar founders who weaved stories around their vision. Those which outclassed the sophistry of Valley investors and enamoured a raucous Wall Street. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos executed this skill so well that  investors are apologetic in asking for profits even after 15 years. Flipkart, the overfunded Indian e-commerce engine, should soon learn valuable lessons here. Its founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal would do well with stronger gravitas to stay on top of the valuation game. Nobody is grudging Flipkart’s $7 billion valuation, for they have executed the story well for now (multiples are fairly modest compared to Amazon’s early years). But it has just begun. How do you convince the world that Flipkart is an innovator, or at least an improvisor? How do you stay ahead of the impatient markets and edgy investors? Can you make the believers stay the course? That’s where tags like ‘charismatic’ or  ‘inspirational’ work for Bezos and Ma.


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