Saving Private Flipkart

Interesting article. Some tidbits:

  • Democracy is the worst way to manage a crisis, but democracy runs in the veins of these new-age startups.
  • In times of crisis, lack of clarity and focus on decisions kill organizations faster than the external world can.
  • Wonder what prompted the decision to go app-only when neither the company nor the market was ready for it.
  • Call in a team of sharp youngsters, give them a few hundred million dollars and tell them that GMV is your holy grail. Every other metric is irrelevant. And what do you get? Decisions that drive GMV.
  • As one of Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles states, “We try not to spend money on things that don’t matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.”
  • The internal conflicts and uneasy tugs of war over decisions led to a point where the company hasn’t shipped out any innovation for the past two years.
  • Take deep cuts… Free up those resources.
  • Reward the loyalists – 80% purchases come from 20% customers.

Yeah read this too recently.

It’s been very interesting to see how Flipkart, which had a pretty sizable lead, drop the ball and literally hand market share over to Amazon. Not that Amazon didn’t innovate. And most importantly Amazon was very focused on the customer experience and execution. Flipkart kind of lost sight of that and just chased GMV. It also bought into the hype surrounding it.

Nobody could figure out why they would go app only. That was a totally crazy move – I can’t imagine what the justification for this was.

Democracy has its place but don’t think it can be applied to tech startups. Being open and transparent, yes. And they are not the same thing.

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Yeah, that’s why even Dennis Bakke’s solution is to have an explicit decision maker. It’s not consensus, just advice. He also points out that consensus doesn’t work, because no one owns up to it. And correlates that with low turnout for voting in elections.

Myntra is now coming back to the desktop. I guess the experiment didn’t work out.

The article said they gave up within a month of announcing the move. So, Myntra had already done the move? Weird.

Flipkart gave up earlier. Myntra, acquired by flipkart, is giving up now.

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