Softbank’s India operating partner Vikas Agnihotri quits

Vikas Agnihotri, SoftBank’s India operating partner, instrumental in Paytm public market debut as a SoftBank representative, has officially exited the technology-focused investment fund after 3 years. Agnihotri has reportedly left SoftBank in September this year, but the news of his departure has only recently surfaced, according to a report by The Economic Times.

Before joining Softbank in 2020 as its first operating partner, Vikas Agnihotri had the position of interim head for the official designation of Managing Director of sales at Google in India in 2020. Before his short tenure at Google, he served as the Chief Executive of Religare Macquarie Private Wealth Management. He closely worked with Rajan Anandan, the current MD of Peak XV Partners (formerly known as Sequoia Capital India).

During his tenure at Softbank, he worked on the deal with Paytm and other flagship startups within the SoftBank portfolio. Agnihotri also had important positions in boards of other firms. For instance, he was a member of the board on the boards of Firstcry, Globalbees, and Inmobi. However, with him quitting SoftBank, it is speculated that he will transition out of these board roles soon. Agnihotri had already resigned from the Lenskart board in September, around the same time when he had exited SoftBank.

Agnihotri’s departure comes amid broader market shifts, raising questions about the trajectory of SoftBank’s investments and the challenges posed by the current funding climate. 2023 has panned out to be one of the lowest timeframes for Indian startups, as far as fundraising is concerned. Major foreign backers such as SoftBank, Tiger Global among others, have mostly done follow-on bridge rounds in existing companies amid capital crunch, refraining from writing fresh cheques.

SoftBank, which has largely failed to bring out intended outcomes from its Vision Fund, is looking at some of its flagship bets in India, to go public in coming years. FirstCry and Ola Electric are preparing to drafting their IPO papers in the coming months. Softbank also recently unloaded its stakes in certain firms. For instance, SoftBank sold its PB Fintech shares worth Rs 914 crore. According to a report by The Economic Times, citing data from Tracxn, funding in Indian startups dwindled to a seven-year low of $7 billion in the calendar year 2023. This is significantly less than one-third of the estimated $25 billion received in the previous year.


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