Hari Vasudev, former senior vice president of engineering at e-commerce firm Flipkart, is set to become the head of Walmart Labs India, according to a person with direct knowledge of the development. The India unit of Walmart Labs, which is the research and development division of Walmart, plays a crucial role in the retail giant’s battle against Amazon and in building its e-commerce capabilities.
A Walmart spokesperson did not immediately respond to a mail, while a message sent to Vasudev did not elicit any response at the time of publishing this story.
Vasudev, who held technology leadership roles at Flipkart, had left the e-commerce major early this year amid top-level churn at the firm, which saw former Tiger Global executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy being appointed as chief executive. He joined Flipkart in April 2015 from Yahoo! where he was vice president and head of its R&D centre in India.
Vasudev is expected to join Walmart next week.
Walmart established its Bangalore R&D centre five years ago and has a 1,200-strong workforce. It added 500 engineers in 2016, alone according to a recent Times of India report. During his visit early last month, Jeremy King, Walmart’s chief technology officer and head of Walmart Labs US, told the paper that the new version of the technology for competitive price analysis, which is a crucial element in the intense fight among various retail players across geographies, was being built at the Bangalore centre.
Engaged in a tough fight with Amazon, Walmart harbours ambitions of building a global e-commerce network. In the US, the firm acquired e-commerce site Jet.com. Prior to that, it bought a small stake in Chinese e-commerce site JD.com. It had also held early-stage talks with Flipkart to invest in the Indian e-commerce firm which directly contests with Amazon for market leadership in the domestic market. However, the talks reportedly fell through over valuations.