Really sad to see Sachin leave Flipkart, co-founder Binny Bansal

Really sad to see Sachin leave Flipkart, co-founder Binny Bansal

Sachin Bansal (right) and Binny Bansal. PTI

They were considered the Jai-Veeru of Indian startup panorama, and when one decided to finally exit the company they founded 11 years ago it was really a sad moment for the other.

Sachin Bansal's decision to exit Flipkart after its takeover by Warlmart was a "very emotional moment", said the company's co-founder Binny at a select media briefing on Thursday.

Asked if he didn't try and convince Sachin to stay on, Binny, 35, said, "That's an understatement."

As US retailer Walmart acquired a majority stake in Flipkart, Sachin sold his 5.5 per cent stake for about $1 billion and exited the company. The two Bansals are not related, but came to know each other as they were passing out of Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, in 2005, and decided to move to Bangalore, now known as Bengaluru.

They launched Flipkart in 2007 as the 'Amazon of India'. It was valued at close to $21 billion, as Walmart bought 77% stake in it for $16 billion.

While Binny decided to continue with the company, Sachin, 36, exited.

"More than anything else, it is a very emotional moment for all of us. Sachin and I go a long way. We met in 2005 when we were passing out (of IIT, Delhi). Both of us moved to Bangalore. We were a group of eight friends from IIT Delhi and we used to hang out together all the time and we were best of friends," said Binny, recalling the Flipkart journey.

"I think both of us have been sort of a pillar of support to each other," he said, wishing Binny the very best for his future endeavours.

In a Facebook post, Sachin said his work at Flipkart "is done" and "it's time to hand over the baton and move on."

After moving to Bengaluru, Sachin joined Amazon and recommended Binny, earning an employee recommendation bonus. He, however, had to soon return it as Binny left Amazon in just eight months.

The two then started a company together with Rs 4 lakh capital. Just Amazon, it started with selling books online.

"We would do whatever it takes to do the business. He and I would ride my bike for 40-50 km every day in Bangalore, picking up books from various distributors, coming back, packing them (for dispatch to customers who had ordered)," Binny said.

The company has since grown and crossed 100 million registered customers in 2016.

"If I go back 10 years, its just amazing how we started what we did. Through the last 10 yrs one thing which really held both of us together was the shared values and making sure we do the right thing for customer always," he said adding both ensured that they thought big and audacious.

A lot of Flipkart values, he said, come from the strong belief that Sachin brought and helped bring strong foundation.

But like most investor-driven companies, there comes a time when a debate happens on founder versus non-founder. In 2016, Sachin became executive chairman, as Binny replaced him as CEO. A few months later, Kalyan Krishnamurthy, a senior executive from Flipkart's largest investor, Tiger Global, who was interim CFO at the e-commerce giant in 2013-14, came back as head of category design.

Soon, he tightened the targets and fired quite a few senior executives for poor performance. On January 9, 2017, Kalyan was declared Flipkart CEO - the first non-founder CEO of an Indian startup Unicorn, while Binny became Flipkart Group CEO.