Flipkart looking to acquire firms with ‘strong tech team’ | Industry

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, flush with funds after a $2-billion infusion by Walmart, is scouting for companies that have a “ tech ” and are solving an “India-specific problem”, said ’s CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy. This comes right after the company announced its acquisition of AI-led speech recognition company Liv.ai.

This buyout will eventually allow Flipkart users to engage with the platform using ‘voice’ in multiple languages, which opens opportunities for the online retailer to tap into tier 2 and beyond customers. Krishnamurthy said that even their seller platform and supply chain platform, among others, will be integrated with this technology.

“In India, Flipkart has made ecommerce happen. We have led local innovation in India,” said Krishnamurthy. “Every year we come up with a local innovation and this (voice-led commerce) is one of them. We could have waited for three years, but we wanted to drive the adoption because we know that’s what the Indian user wants.”

Launched in 2015 by three IIT-Kharagpur graduates, Subodh Kumar, Kishore Mundra and Sanjeev Kumar, Liv claims to be the only company in India to be able to convert speech to text in nine regional languages, including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi and Tamil, apart from English.

“We work on speech recognition and surrounding technologies and these will be extremely valuable to any company that wants to target the Indian customer base of 100-200 million,” said Subodh Kumar, chief executive of Liv.

“Voice is a much better and effortless interface and it will increase the buying propensity and their intention to buy and ease of use will increase on an ecommerce platform.”

ET was the first to report on Flipkart’s advanced talks with Liv.ai for an approxi mate $40 million acquisition.

Krishnamurthy believes Flipkart’s past acquisitions such as payments platform PhonePe and after-sale services company Jeeves were also capability-led, which have paid off for the group company and they will continue to follow the same thesis.

“This (integration of Liv technology with Flipkart) will be tech built by Indians for Indians. In general, it always happens by global companies,” added Krishnamurthy. Flipkart’s acquisition of Liv comes at a time when ecommerce companies in India have shifted their focus to tier II and beyond areas and target the next 200-300 million online shoppers. However, heterogeneity of language in these areas is a hurdle that needs to be crossed.

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