PAYING TOP DOLLAR FOR KEY TALENT – Flipkart Delivers Million-$ Salaries to New Top Hires

Bengaluru
Clutch of engineers and strategy guru getting $1 m pay plus stock options
India’s biggest online retailer and India Inc toddler Flipkart is paying million dollar-plus salaries along with stock options worth millions more to a clutch of engineers and a strategy expert it has poached from marquee global firms such as Google and McKinsey as part of its strategy to aggressively build a technology capability that can rival Amazon in the country .Two of Flipkart’s latest hires -Punit Soni, who joined from Google as its chief product officer, and Peeyush Ranjan, its head of engineering who also joined the Bengaluru-based from the web search titan -are getting fixed salaries of around $1 million (.` 6.2 crore) a year each apart from anywhere between $3 million and $6 million in stock options, according to company sources familiar with their compensation.

A third recent hire, Saikiran Krishnamurthy , who has joined Flipkart from global consulting firm McKinsey & Co as the chief operating officer of its commerce division, is also being paid a similar amount, they have added.

Flipkart did not respond to queries sent by ET seeking confirmation about the million-dollar salaries. Soni, Ranjan and Krishnamurthy were not immediately available for comment. This would make them among the highest-paid engineers and non-board level executives across the Indian startup universe and probably even India Inc.

Few Indian companies pay division heads as much, and milliondollar salaries are usually the preserve of CEOs.

The salaries Flipkart is paying the likes of Soni and Ranjan compares favourably with salaries of top executives in India’s $146-billion information technology industry. For example, at Wipro, Chief Executive TK Kurien was paid a salary of $1.1 million, excluding stock options, in fiscal year 2013-14, according to regulatory filings.

TCS chief N Chandrasekaran took home a package of nearly $3.15 million while Cognizant CEO Francisco D’Souza took home a pay cheque of close to $1.5 million, excluding stock options.Infosys’ Vishal Sikka gets about $5.08 million, excluding stocks.

Flipkart sources said paying top-dollar salary was essential to lure talent, especially from the Silicon Valley working at top global names.

“Fixed salary apart, stock options and joining bonuses are an effective tool to attract such talent to relocate from the Silicon Valley,“ said one person familiar with these hires.

Flipkart, which raised $1.9 billion in capital last year and is in the midst of investor road shows to raise hundreds of millions more, is under pressure to build a team that can match Amazon on the technology and innovation fronts, and fend off sprightly and pugnacious domestic rival, Softbank-backed Snapdeal.

As ET reported last week, these high profile hirings underscore a gold rush among the country’s fast-growing companies to tap into Silicon Valley for talent to bolster their technology capabilities that are often a key differentiator in the fast-growing but cut-throat sector.

Experts said such salaries were unlikely to be the norm.

“E-commerce top hiring is similar to how retail looked in 2000 and telecom during 2003-2004.New capabilities have to be built, but these salaries are not sustainable,“ said Anandorup Ghose, who leads the compensation and governance practice at Aon Hewitt.

“How many can you really pay a salary of around Rs 10 crore?
Maybe 10 of them at best,“ added Ghose.

Source: The Economic Times

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Author:

Neeraj; an entrepreneur & a visionary in the field of Railway, Defense & Automobiles, is a graduate in commerce and a Harvard Business School Alumni. He’s an expert in govt. liasoning & contracting and has an exceptional network & connections at both local as well as global level. He’s an expert in Market Strategy & Planning and has served number of overseas companies as an advisor/consultant. He takes a profound interest in upcoming startups & is very receptive towards ground-breaking ideas & innovations. He likes to brainstorm those ideas and if the values & philosophies matches; he is even ready to invest his resources, serve as a mentor or act as an incubator to futuristic businesses.

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