In a bid to settle its Core team in India, Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba has roped in Bharati Balakrishnan, the chief business officer at local services marketplace LocalOye.
Balakrishnan is the first senior-level hire who would be part of the local team for Alibaba's soon-to-be-launched Indian unit. Soumitra Sharma, former associate at IDG Ventures India, who joined Alibaba as director of global strategies earlier this year, is expected to work with Balakrishnan.
The development comes at a time when Alibaba has said it intends to have a presence in the country independently despite its investments in Snapdeal and Paytm.
Alibaba Group president Michael Evans, during his India trip in March, had said the eRetailer was planning to enter the eCommerce business in India this year itself. At the time, Evans and Alibaba's global managing director K Guru Gowrappan had met telecoms minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
Sharma's role at Alibaba is to lead global strategy for Asia and the US, and one of his priorities at the moment is to provide a smooth path to Alibaba for its direct presence in India.
Alibaba, which has been a strategic investor in India so far, has a B2B presence, but company executives have expressed keen interest in building a prominent consumer-facing online commerce business in the country.
After the recent eCommerce related guidelines by Indian government, Alibaba can set up its own business under the marketplace model. Alibaba reported an annual gross merchandise volume (GMV) of $485 billion in its China marketplace for the fiscal year ended March 2016, according to regulatory filings. GMV is the overall sales done on an eCommerce platform without factoring in discounts and returns via sellers.