A longtime Google vet just joined one of Amazon’s biggest competitors in India thanks in part to a pair of sneakers

Surojit Chatterjee
Surojit Chatterjee Google

Indian ecommerce company Flipkart just poached 8.5-year Google veteran Surojit Chatterjee to be its SVP of consumer experience and growth, and a new pair of sneakers had a little something to do with it.

Chatterjee started at Google as the head of payments products for Asia Pacific back in 2007, and bounced around to several different roles for the next 8 years, including, most recently, directing product management for mobile search ads. His various positions all involved mobile, giving him front-row seats to the company’s explosive growth in that area.

One of his most impactful projects spearheaded mobile conversions: finding ways to show marketers how their cell phone ads translated into actual store visits.

Chatterjee says that he views Google as a “transformational” company, one that changed not just an entire industry but countless lives, too. He wouldn’t want work somewhere where he didn’t see that opportunity.

That’s where the shoes come in.

Chatterjee’s parents live in India, and once, on a business trip, he paid a visit to their house, about 30 miles outside the nearest city. His father, an athlete who still runs 5 miles every day at 76, needed a new pair of sneakers. To get them, though, he would have to weave through insane traffic on his trek to the city and essentially waste a whole day travelling to the city and back.

But Chatterjee simply popped out his mobile phone and ordered his father a pair of shoes online. His father had never seen or heard of mobile commerce. Yet after they bought the shoes Sunday afternoon, and received them by Monday, Chatterjee’s father felt converted. He called up his son, unable to contain his delight.

Even though Chatterjee had been talking to mobile ecommerce companies for years to try to convince them to buy Google ads, seeing its potential to change his dad’s life by saving him long and arduous trips outside his home touched him in a “very fundamental way,” he says.

“It was a big personal realisation,” Chatterjee tells Business Insider. “Mobile commerce has the power to truly revolutionise how Indian consumers live. It was very powerful.”

He’s not the first Google exec Flipkart has nabbed in the last year. Since March, the popular ecommerce company has poached engineering exec Peeyush Ranjan, Motorola exec Punit Soni, and data science exec Mayur Datar.

The well-funded Flipkart has become one of the top five websites in India, where it’s battling against giants like Snapdeal and Amazon, which has continued to try to dominate the country’s burgeoning ecommerce industry since CEO Jeff Bezos vowed to invest $US2 billion there last year.

But Chatterjee isn’t scared of Amazon.

“The combination of [Flipkart’s] vision, the leadership they have in the market, the vision, and the team will go a long way,” Chatterjee says.

Punit Soni, one of the other former Google execs, tells Business Insider via email that he is “very excited” about the new addition to the team:

“He will be a key part of the product team and will help take our consumer experiences go the next level. With Eric Lange (Yahoo), Dan Rawson Ram Papatla (Amazon), Anand Lakshminarayanan (Microsoft), and now Surojit coming in, I am confident we have the best product team this side of the ocean.”

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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