SoftBank, after fueling in the Indian companies such as Flipkart, Ola, OYO and Paytm with billions of dollars this year, has now agreed to back the lobby group Indiatech.
Other VCs such as Matrix Partners and Kalaari capital are also supporting Indiatech, led by Flipkart and Ola. Reportedly, SoftBank will provide its financial and strategic expertise to the Indiatech member companies to help them fight against foreign rivals such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Uber.
As stated by a SoftBank spokesperson, “SoftBank is one of the several other investors including Matrix and Kalaari in Indian Internet businesses such as Ola, Flipkart, and Hike, which is supporting Indiatech. Our intent is to work with the government to support the development of the rapidly evolving Internet ecosystem in the country and we hope the organisation would facilitate this.”
Conceptualised last year, the lobby group aims to weed out the foreign competition with the help of government by creating favorable laws for the local players against global competitors.
The group behind Indiatech believes that if home-grown Internet firms do not succeed, India will likely lose $10 Bn of FDI per year, $1 Bn of tax revenues per year and a million jobs that could have been created based on the numbers extrapolated from China, according to those familiar with the group’s views.
Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal, who has been leading the charge and voicing his opinion against the aggressive spending of companies like Amazon in India, will be the founding President and Chairman. Former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer and economist Gyanendra Badgaiyan has been recently roped in as the CEO of Indiatech.org.
This fight between the local and foreign incumbents in the consumer Internet segment was already a tangled maze, now getting more complicated with the entry of SoftBank. On one hand SoftBank is promoting Indiatech members, on the other hand, interestingly, it is also getting ready to fuel Uber which apparently competes with Ola in India.
While on one side, Indian Internet companies are fighting against the foreign rivals, the leading homegrown corporates such as Aditya Birla Group and Future Group are very much active in criticising practices followed by these Internet companies. Recently Aditya Birla and Future Group also represented retailers Association of India and reached to PM Narendra Modi with their grievances against online players.
Although SoftBank has decided to back the Indian consumer Internet startups’ lobby group Indiatech, it is really difficult to say whether the government will be able to take any initiative in this regard in the near future. Also, the ongoing war between the online and offline ventures might have an impact on the overall ecosystem of the Indian consumer internet companies. How lobby group will fight this war on two fronts remains to be seen.
[The development was reported by ETtech.]