India is front and centre for most tech companies right now due to its powerhouse economy, expected to become the world’s second-largest smartphone market behind China by 2020, and it’s absurdly huge population — and like China, it’s hard for outsiders to really grasp just how big this place is.
That’s why eyebrows are being raised over the weekend at news that top execs from two major foreign tech giants with big investments in India have been quitting.
Amazon India’s lifestyle and fashion head, Vikas Purohit, has “moved on for personal reasons,” the company told The Economic Times in a statement. Meanwhile, two top execs at Line, Japan’s hugely popular mobile messaging app that has been trying to push into emerging markets, have quit the India business to do their own startup.
In a statement given to the Times, Line’s business head for India, Damandeep Singh, said, “Over the past couple of years, Rajat and I got a chance to see a lot of business models explode on the mobile front in the Japanese and Korean market. No one monetises mobile like the way it happens in Japan.”
“We identified some unique opportunities that can be beneficial to the Indian market, with a bit of a desi touch, and there exists a gap in the market right now on content consumption. So we tried to address that in our new business,” he added. Without saying what specifically that new business is, all we know right now is that it will be a “content-based app.”
We have reached out to Line for further comment. Amazon India has still not replied to our request for comment.
As to Amazon’s statement, it was more vague and corporate: “Vikas Purohit has moved on from Amazon.in for personal reasons. [He] built a strong fashion business for Amazon.in from scratch. Since the launch of the fashion category in September 2013, the fashion store has emerged as one of the top three stores on Amazon.in, both in terms of volume and value.”
Amazon India’s vice president of global vendor management, Susan Saideman, is expected to take over the fashion business until the company can “identify a new leader.” It will want to do so quickly: it’s facing increased competition from local rivals on a number of fronts.
The truth is that Purohit’s resignation will sting — he was considered “one of the four pillars of Amazon India,” with fashion and lifestyle “one of the best possible growth engines for ecommerce companies in India,” according to the newspaper.
As for Line, the company is known to be eying opportunities in emerging markets like India. Last month, it rolled out a “Lite” version of its mobile messaging app that is less data-heavy for users on cheaper price plans, and updated its Android app with a new focus on low-cost calling. But it’s still facing uncertain times as it yet again delayed an IPO due to poor market conditions.
In any case, India is a market that waits for no one. Both companies will want to sort out their top ranks quickly, and do their best to keep them in going forward.
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