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Best of 2017

That went by quickly


Can you believe it? 2017 is almost done. Time is a sneaky little thing. It flies by without you realising, and now, it is that time of the year again. The time when you look at your pants and wonder why they don’t fit anymore. It is time to make new resolutions; maybe a gym membership to get fit, maybe travel by public transport to save money for those excellent vacations in countries you really want to visit but can’t because you spent too much in August. You know, August was just a good month. Where did it all go wrong?

There will be a few companies thinking about it too. What were those missteps that ultimately led them to wonder: now what? In 2016, companies were still riding the wave of funding from 2015 and had cash to spend. But in 2017, that money slowed down and everyone had to rationalise. Snapdeal thought that too, and we detailed a lot of how that played out. We looked at it carefully and did a post-mortem of the unicorpse. It was almost done, ready to be acquired by its one-time arch rival, Flipkart. That deal never happened. And like every bad film, it rose like a zombie by preparing to sell everything it had. But if you really think about it, not all was right with some of its assets, especially Unicommerce. But what about Flipkart, the company that was supposed to buy it? It raised a tonne of money, and I am serious when I say a tonne of it. The question now is: Is this a new beginning or a false dawn? We don’t know yet, but what we do know is that it is interested in buying smaller e-commerce companies to get a larger share of the market, something we called its Zugzwang moment. While we are talking about excess, everyone’s favourite edtech company, Byju’s, raised a lot of cash. What’s behind the hype that has followed the company? Edtech is a difficult market and one of the companies Byju’s acquired, TutorVista, is a good example of that.

The other end of the market is Shopclues. But that company has troubles of its own. It wants to sell, both itself and its products, but there don’t seem to be too many buyers. Yet. And to solve the problem of buyers, companies are going offline. It works against the entire thesis they started out on. But the champion of offline to online companies, AppsDaily, couldn’t make it. It shuttered. There is a lesson here somewhere.

Enough of the doom and gloom though. The new year is almost here. It means the battles that took shape in 2017 will intensify in 2018. One of them was between Uber and Ola. The Indian ride-hailing unicorn reached a crossroads, it was ceding ground to Uber in all its major battlegrounds, it had to up its game to stay relevant. It did try, until the chaos at Uber. Just like ride-hailing, grocery too has found itself in a battle. BigBasket and Amazon are trading blows and Kishore Biyani is trying to get in on the action too. This one is going to get tasty. Talking about tasty, Zomato vs Swiggy is going to get fierce in 2018. They have been battling on cloud kitchens, and the fight will spill over into deliveries soon. And now they have a new competitor, Foodpanda, powered by Ola. Speaking of fights spilling into 2018, Oyo, which is now looking at South East Asia as a new market, is seeing two upstarts willing to take it on, in the form of Treebo and Fab Hotels.

We, at The Ken, are not always about conflict. And like every Christopher Nolan film, we also care about love. Finding it online and making money doing it. We also wondered why Paytm found value in ticket booking website I could probably go on, but then you’d be reading this in 2019.

There are others we loved, our highlights. Check them out.

Ola is going international and it is starting with the subcontinent

Oyo has found a new lease of life and Townhouse may be its new flagship product

Snapdeal made one big acquisition: Freecharge. And when time came, Snapdeal sold it.

Do you wonder why Paytm paid a premium to get a piece of the BigBasket pie?

Zomato started its Amazon Prime lookalike—Gold. It was a huge hit, but it is a ticking time bomb.

I hope you had fun reading our stories, we had fun writing them. See you in 2018.

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2 others Vijay Shekar Sharma
Vivek Shah