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Jason Kothari gets additional charge as CEO of Freecharge

Almost a month after Govind Rajan quit as CEO of Freecharge, Jason Kothari has been appointed as his replacement. Kothari takes on this role in addition to his role as Chief Strategy and Investment Officer at Snapdeal, which owns Freecharge. Kothari is seen as a Softbank appointee at the struggling ecommerce company: Prior to joining Snapdeal just a couple of months ago, Kothari was the CEO of another Softbank company, Housing.com, for over a year. He was appointed to the position in August 2015 following the exit of the company’s co-founder and CEO Rahul Yadav in July 2015. Rajan had quit last Freecharge last month, after taking over as CEO from Freecharge co-founder Kunal Shah, in May 2016.

Interestingly, the note about Kothari says that “Under his stewardship, Housing.com changed its business strategy & plan, raised an additional round of funding from lead investor Softbank, and achieved key operating results, such as increasing revenue by 400%.” We’re wondering if this appointment is going to be followed by additional funds from Softbank, unless that’s what Snapdeal is hoping for.

Along with this appointment, Snapdeal says it intends to invest an additional $20 million in Freecharge: it’s worth keeping in mind that when it had acquired Freecharge, the deal was pegged at around $400-450 million, but these aren’t the heady days of 2015, and Snapdeal is struggling: it has recently laid of close to 600 people, and is focusing significantly on cost-cutting. That funding, if it does happen, can’t come in soon enough. It’s also a little odd that Kothari is going to continue in his role as CSO in Snapdeal: one would expect that the payments business, in the current environment, would command a CEO’s complete attention. Why not get Kunal Shah back into the CEO role at Freecharge?

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