For Flipkart staff, some cheer, some anxiety

Venkatesh Ganesh Venkatesh GaneshBengaluru, May 9, 2018: Bengaluru | Updated on May 10, 2018 Published on May 09, 2018

Happy to see the uncertainty end, but there’s worry over work culture issues

For Flipkart employees at the company’s 10 lakh sq ft Embassy Tech Village office, the future is a mixed bag — not a bed of roses, nor a thorny road — even as the US-based Walmart Inc-led group announced on Wednesday that it will buy a 77 per cent stake in Flipkart Group for $16 billion.

The news has cheered Prakash Verma though, who came into the company with employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) after Flipkart acquired Myntra . “The value has gone up and it’s a great time to cash out,” he said, but did not delve into details of how much he plans to sell. Flipkart’s stock options are granted over a four-year period, with employees vesting them every month after the one-year threshold. A couple of years back, Flipkart even repurchased ESOPs from its past and present employees for $100 million.

Roshan Menezes, who has been working with the company since 2013, sums it up best. “There are no longer water cooler conversations around the company’s future but the journey begins,” he said.

As congratulatory messages came in from many in the industry, some employees view this development through a different lens. “What matters to a majority of employees is what culture Walmart brings into Flipkart — whether it will continue with its ‘hire and fire’ culture or take a more liberal view,” said Nikita Dasgupta, a mobility engineer in Flipkart.

Dasgupta’s concerns come from the fact that the Arkansas-based retail giant has faced lawsuits from a group of warehouse workers claiming poor working conditions and safety violations.

For others like Menezes, who works in the analytics department (which crunches data to show probable things to buy) the larger question is around whether, with this acquisition, things would settle down in Flipkart. “For more than two years, there has been constant churn in the top management and the culture within our company has deteriorated,” he said.

For others like Deepak Jain, the anxiety is around what happens to their future, considering that Walmart has its own labs in India in addition to its workforce in the US.

“They have a reputation of not being employee-friendly and there are some rumours going around that there could be job cuts,” he added.

Some others are sad that Sachin Bansal would no longer be with the company.

“He was very accessible to us and we could discuss technology in depth with him,” said Jain.

Walmart President Doug McMillon addressed some of these issues in the townhall meeting. According to sources, Walmart hit the right notes, saying that it will do 100 per cent buyback of employees’ vested shares and was impressed by Flipkart and its group companies.

Not all employees are anxious though. Dasgupta adds that despite the concerns, “the fact that we get to work with a world renowned brand brightens our prospects in the industry.”

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Published on May 09, 2018
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