For all its well-documented troubles, Flipkart Ltd remains India’s outstanding Internet company.
A Mint analysis of the financial statements of the country’s top 41 consumer Internet start-ups and companies highlights why Flipkart continues to be the torch-bearer of India’s start-up ecosystem. The analysis also makes for a worrying read for start-up investors or anyone optimistic about the state of the consumer Internet business.
Flipkart accounted for 75% of the revenues but only 46% of the losses at these companies for the year ended March 2016, the latest for which numbers are available. The online retailer, which was valued at $15 billion in its last funding round in the middle of 2015, also accounted for nearly 40% of the valuation of the companies.
None of the 41 start-ups is an early stage company; all have raised at least two rounds of funds from institutional investors, or Series B rounds as they are called in start-up jargon. More than half of these start-ups have raised many more rounds of funds. The numbers exclude those at ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd that runs cab hailing service Ola, which hasn’t yet reported its results for the financial year 2016. In the previous year, Ola had reported a loss of Rs755 crore on sales of Rs418 crore.
The analysis reveals why funding has slowed considerably for Internet start-ups over the past 15 months. There’s an unmistakable mismatch in the valuations and revenues of Internet companies. On a cumulative basis, the revenue-to-valuation multiple of these 41 start-ups was 11 times, which for older start-ups (especially inventory-based start-ups) is a relatively high ratio. The loss numbers are shocking. The companies together reported losses of nearly Rs16,000 crore to generate revenues of roughly Rs24,000 crore in the given period. Only one company, Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, which runs ticket seller BookMyShow, showed a profit.
If Flipkart were to be removed from this list, the multiples would get considerably worse. Not that Flipkart numbers are flattering by themselves. The company’s various entities, which include its logistics unit as well as fashion retailer Myntra, reported a net loss of roughly Rs5,770 crore on revenues of nearly Rs18,000 crore.