Now, that the storm has settled a bit, a deeper analysis of the mega deal.
The big takeaway from the present deal is that deep pockets win. This is a maxim that has been demonstrated over and over again, especially in B2C technology plays. A certain disdain for capital efficiency, a focus on gaining share and a relentless focus on killing competition define today’s leading companies. Flipkart would have been in the news for very different reasons had it not been for the timely fund infusion by SoftBank in 2017. Growth had stalled, the annual burn was high and unit economics were unsustainable. And yet, as part of the strategy of Lee Fixel of Tiger Global and Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart doubled down on not ceding market share to Amazon, whatever the capital burn. This in turn caught Softbank’s eye (whose earlier investment in Snapdeal was not working to its expectations).
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Rajat Kumar — Knowledge@Wharton
Are we going to witness a head-on clash of the two titans in the coming years? It is interesting to see Walmart buying online retailers and Amazon buying brick and mortar retail chain and in the process each becoming more similar to the other. But in my view Amazon has a big advantage over Walmart – Jeff Bezos.
But Wind thinks Walmart’s tactics are “a little confusing and a little late” as it tries to catch up with online merchants. However, he notes that with its scale and track record of success, the discounter will eventually become digitally savvy even if it takes longer than expected. Meanwhile, Amazon could bungle the integration of Whole Foods by making changes too quickly and not paying enough heed to cultural differences, Dahlhoff says. Adds Lodish: “I’m not sure how much experience Amazon has in running a big operation like Whole Foods that’s got a lot of logistics that are not in warehouses but are on shelves.”
At least, Amazon can afford the $13.7 billion price tag for Whole Foods — last year’s free cash flow alone was $9.7 billion. And Wall Street will likely give Amazon some room to run because it has a proven business model and an innovative and aggressive CEO. “The market has been giving Jeff Bezos a lot of room to do what he feels is in the long-term best interest [of the company] and they’re not punishing him if he has short-term uses for his capital that don’t go to the bottom line right away,” Lodish says.