|BENGALURU: Ravi Venkatesan, the former Infosys cochairman, is discussing a potential offer to join US ecommerce giant Amazon in its India business in a senior role, said two sources familiar with the matter. Venkatesan, who has earlier also served as the head of Microsoft India, could join as either a board member, chairman or a senior advisor at Amazon India, the sources said.|
“Venkatesan is looking at multiple offers and has held multiple discussions with Amazon since last year,” said one person cited above and is involved in the process.
Venkatesan is also discussing a role with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the sources. ET could not ascertain the exact role Venkatesan is considering with the Gates Foundation. Venkatesan said “no comments,” in response to queries from ET.
An Amazon India spokeswoman said that “we do not comment on rumours and speculations.” Venkatesan stepped down from the board of Infosys last week to “pursue exciting new opportunity.”
The 54-year-old’s talks for a role at Amazon’s Indian unit comes amidst growing chatter that the online retail giant’s country head Amit Agarwal is being considered for a bigger global role at the Seattle-based company. Agarwal, who is part of Amazon’s global senior leadership team (S-team) reporting directly to founder Jeff Bezos since 2016, has denied these rumours and has said that his focus continues to be on India.
Till now, Amazon has not constituted a formal board for its Indian operations. Amazon’s biggest focus in India is the online retail business where Bezos has committed an investment of $5 billion.
The company faces tougher competition as US retail major Walmart recently said it will acquire market leader Flipkart and may also bring in Google-owner Alphabet as an investor, EThad reported.
But Amazon has also built a significant presence in areas like cloud business and also has a large development centre, which helps build product for its global operations.
These businesses are run through different subsidiaries in India with shares of each directly held by Amazon’s different global units.
Venkatesan is currently the non-executive chairman of public sector lender Bank of Baroda and has previously served on the boards of Harvard Business School, AB Volvo, Bunge and Thermax. He also served on boards of philanthropic organisations like Social Venture Partners and Rockefeller Foundation.
As chairman of Microsoft India from 2004 and 2011, he helped establish the unit as the software major’s second-largest presence worldwide. Before Microsoft, Venkatesan was chairman of Cummins India.