Classifieds company Quikr has shutdown offices of CommonFloor-owned roommate finder and home rental app, Flatchat. A spokesperson from the company has confirmed this development with MediaNama and said that “we have consolidated all our assets after our (CommonFloor) acquisitions. Flatchat is merged with our messaging service Quikr Nxt”. Flatchat will however continue to exist as an independent service, added the spokesperson.
The development was first reported by Economic Times; the report said Flatchat was a 52-member team based out of its Bangalore office. Quikr had apparently provided an option to employees for moving to a different office out of Bangalore, or a different unit under Quikr, while employees speaking to the publication claimed they were given a month’s notice but were not offered a severance package if they chose to move on. The spokesperson from Quikr however did not comment on this when MediaNama asked.
MediaNama had written to Flatchat’s co-founder Gaurav Munjal and its team for a comment; although the team (from CommonFloor) is yet to comment on this, Munjal told us that he stepped down from the role of CEO in August 2015, and issued the following statement as a Facebook post:
Flatchat is not the run-of-the-mill product whose revenue was obvious. It was a lean team making a global product. And the response and traction was huge. I can go to the extent of saying it was one of the most innovative product to come up in the recent times because it removed the need for a broker. You could directly get in touch with the owner or tenant. Start chatting. We saw a huge response and opportunity. When Hemesh and me moved on from Flatchat to start Unacademy we had created a new management which we were confident would take the product to the next level. And had no idea about the acquisition. A few months later when the news of acquisition started floating then we got to know that Quikr would end up merging Flatchat with its chat product Quikr Nxt.
I was not surprised because the DNA of two companies are very different. One is an Ops heavy revenue focussed company. One is a lean, small product focussed company.
Expansion: Note that CommonFloor had acquired a controlling stake in Flatchat for an undisclosed amount in cash and stock in April 2014, and Flatchat had even expanded its operations overseas to Singapore in October 2015 following the investment. At that time, the company said the service is in beta stage for Singapore users and they would have to log on this website to get an invite. It said that it chose Singapore for international expansion as the city has a large number of Indian expats many of whom are students.
Acquisition and layoffs
After acquiring CommonFloor for a reported $200 million in January, Quikr went on to fire more than 150 employees from CommonFloor in March, while stating that “Bangalore will serve as the main hub for all business functions of both Quikr and COmmonFloor.” At the time of acquisition, Quikr mentioned that both brands will continue to operate as separate entities. The deal would give CommonFloor access to Quikr’s 30 million users and expanded scope across Quikr’s four other verticals.
CommonFloor’s operations include online rental/lease property listings, and a different section for real estate buying and selling, along with a feature to view them on a map or list-wise. This is somewhat similar to Quikr’s real estate focused product QuikrHomes that was launched in September 2015. As pointed out earlier, Flatchat’s operations and assets including technology will now be merged with Quikr’s standalone messaging app Quikr Nxt for conversations between buyers and sellers.
But, is the app working?
While using the app around a month ago, I found just two or three active users in Bangalore (city I was looking to move into), even though there were multiple ‘seekers’. Currently, the app lists just 3 tenants in Bangalore city who are looking for a flat mate, 3 other owners looking to rent out their flat, and around 30 flat seekers.
Google Play store mentions that Flatchap was last updated by its developer on March 18, 2016, just months after the Quikr acquisition. The app has been installed over 100,00 times, while several users had pointed out issues with the app. However, when MediaNama asked about this, the spokesperson from Quikr did not comment on the matter specifically but added that Flatchat’s operations will continue.
Some users weren’t able to sign-up:
Others pointed out that Flatchat’s customer support team doesn’t respond:
Other issues with messaging and listing: