About 400 employees with stock options at online retailer Flipkart have hit the ‘crorepati’ jackpot because of the surging valuation of the online retailer.
The bonanza is reminiscent of the times when thousands of employees — among them office assistants, drivers and receptionists — at another Bangalore-based Infosys hit Esop paydirt. “About 400 of the employees who own a stake have now become crorepatis,” said a person who has direct knowledge of the employee stock option scheme at Flipkart, which received $1 billion (Rs 6,000 crore) in funding last month, valuing it at $7 billion.
About one-fourth of Flipkart’s 7,000 full-time employees own a stake in the company.
At the senior-most level, nearly 20 employees who are at the grade of senior vice-president or above and joined over two years ago are now dollar millionaires, meaning their stock options are worth at least Rs 6 crore on paper. The firm’s stock options get vested over four years. Flipkart declined to provide details for the report.
It is the online retail market leader’s valuation jump that has led to this wealth creation.
In 2012, the company was valued at about $850 million when it raised about $150 million.
In two years, Flipkart’s valuation has grown eight times. For the company’s founders, Esops are a conscious attempt at creating wealth for their employees. “While we are competitive when it comes to salaries, Esops offer the opportunity for wealth and value creation,” said Sachin Bansal, 32, Flipkart’s co-founder and chief executive. “It’s a long-term reward for those who believe in the future of Flipkart.”
After the IT services industry, ecommerce is now the next big opportunity for employees to create wealth, said Anshuman Das, managing partner at Longhouse Consulting, a recruitment firm that works with startups. “The message going out to entrepreneurs is that wealth creation cannot be restricted to just the founders.”
A number of junior employees at Flipkart too hold sizeable stake in the company. This has helped employees like 29-year-old Ambur Iyyappa, a senior manager of customer operations at Flipkart. “I was getting married in 2012 and the buyback allowed me to take care of my wedding expenses,” said the graduate of Annamalai University.
Iyyappa, who sold only a part of his stake at the time of the buyback, declined to reveal how many shares he still holds.
He was the second non-founder employee to join Flipkart in 2008. It was only in 2009, the same year that the company raised its first round of funding of $1 million (over Rs 6 crore) from Accel Partners, that Flipkart started providing Esops.
Fashion e-tailer Myntra, which was acquired by Flipkart in May, allowed employees to sell shares at the time of the acquisition, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal. The company declined to confirm this. Myntra provides Esops to all its core employees, numbering about 600, in functions such as technology and marketing across all levels.
For existing employees like Iyyappa, Esops provide recognition. “Esops are a motivation for us employees,” said Iyyappa. “It is how the company recognizes our work.”