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Walmart to focus on small startup acquihires in India

Having set up its centre in Bengaluru, Walmart completes the acquisition of Flipkart

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MUMBAI: Walmart is looking for tech acquisitions in India. The retailer, which agreed to acquire home-grown e-commerce platform Flipkart in May, is now looking for tech acquisition to strengthen its technology unit Walmart Labs.

Unlike other overseas internet companies such as Amazon and Google, the Arkansas-based company will eye acqui-hire/acquisitions involving small amounts. Acqui-hiring refers to the practice of buying a company in a cut-price deal primarily for the purpose of ‘hiring’ the company’s founders and key employees.

“We got close to doing a couple of (acquisitions)… nothing that was a perfect fit. There were a couple that would have been interesting additions to our competitive intelligence platform. I’m looking at (acquisition candidates) in merchandising, machine learning right now,” said Walmart chief technology officer Jeremy King as quoted by publication Mint.

King also said that Walmart Labs will hire 2,000 engineers across the world, including India. Last year, Walmart Labs hired Hari Vasudev from Flipkart to head its Bengaluru office. Vasudev is also now acting head of data science for Walmart globally. Walmart Labs will hire more senior tech talent in Bengaluru.

“The initial team in Bengaluru was only 30 people and now we have several hundreds. We’re hiring machine learning experts, anyone who’s got merchandising and supply chain experience, data science and cloud experts… just high-quality engineers. We also have some product openings,” the report quoted him as stating.

Having set up its centre in Bengaluru, Walmart completes the acquisition of Flipkart, which is expected to be wrapped up this quarter; Walmart Labs will work closely with the tech team of the Indian online retailer. Other American retail and tech firms such as Amazon, Uber, Target and others have tech centres in Bengaluru as hiring engineers here is far cheaper than in the US.

The acquisitions will, however, be of a much smaller size in comparison to the investment of $16 billion to buy 77 per cent stake in Flipkart.

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