SoftBank-backed Ola's vehicle commerce CEO Arun Sirdeshmukh and its chief of group strategy Amit Anchal are leaving the firm, people familiar with the matter said, marking crucial exits when it is grappling with a delay in its listing plans, even as quality issues dog Ola Electric's scooters.
"Sirdeshmukh was also in charge of the go to market for Ola Electric but has decided to leave. Amit was supposed to lead Ola's IPO and also played a key role in fundraising but with listing plans uncertain for now, he has decided to move on," one of the persons cited above said.
He was persuaded to stay on for the IPO but that is now delayed", the person said.
An Ola spokesperson confirmed Siredeshmukh's exit in response to queries from Moneycontrol, but she firmly denied Anchal was leaving and said he was still part of the company.
"Amit is very much with Ola and definitely has not resigned. As Chief of Group Strategy and Corporate Finance, Amit remains a key leadership team member. He looks after all fundraising and investments across the group and in fact has been key in raising about $2 billion (in debt and equity) in the last 6 months alone and continues to focus on future fundraising as well as strategic investments", she said in an email response.
About Arun Sirdeshmukh, she said, “As you know already, our group CFO Arun Kumar GR now has an expanded role managing day to day operations. This includes overseeing the GTM (go to market) function and therefore Arun Sirdeshmukh who was heading GTM has now had to leave. Both his roles (GTM as well as Ola Cars) will now be under Arun Kumar GR as part of his expanded role."
Sirdeshmukh, previously the head of Amazon Fashion for India joined Ola in April last year and was appointed as the chief executive officer of its vehicle commerce platform Ola Cars in October. He was tasked with overseeing the entire sales and distribution, service, marketing, customer support, and go-to-market strategy for the business. He comes with over 30 years of experience in consumer internet, FMCG, retail and fashion industries, having worked in companies like Amazon, Reliance Trends and IBM Global Services.
Ola Cars was launched to allow consumers to purchase both new and pre-owned vehicles through the Ola app. It also promised a bouquet of services to customers, starting with purchase, vehicle finance and insurance, registration, maintenance including vehicle health diagnostics and service, accessories and resale of the vehicle back to Ola Cars. The company said it will start with pre-owned cars and over time open it up for new vehicles from Ola Electric and other brands.
On the other hand, Anchal, who joined in 2020 after 17 years at Bharti Airtel group played a pivotal role in Ola's fund raising plans and was also supposed to lead its IPO plans.
But as Moneycontrol reported recently, Ola, which was planning to list on the public markets this year, now plans to raise a new round of funding at a lower valuation, signifying a sharp reversal in fortune for startups, after a record 2021 that saw sky-high valuations in the public and private markets.
It is also yet to receive the $500 million loan that it raised from investors late last year, as approvals are pending from the RBI.
These exits also come at a time when there has been a significant change of guard at Ola, with founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal stepping back from day-to-day operations to focus more on engineering functions, team building, and products, apart from focusing on long-term strategic projects such as two-wheelers, cars, and innovations in quick commerce and international expansion. GR Arun Kumar, who joined less than a year ago and is currently the Group CFO of Ola and CFO of Ola Electric is now managing day-to-day operations across the group.
Ola was last valued at $7.3 billion when it raised $139 million in its Series J round, led by Edelweiss PE, IIFL, and Sunil Munjal-led Hero Enterprises, in what seemed like the last round of funding before its IPO. Before the $139 million, it raised $500 million from Warburg Pincus and Temasek, giving early backers Tiger and Matrix a part exit in the company. Founder and CEO Bhavish Aggarwal had earlier said that Ola plans to go public in the first half of 2022.
Aggarwal also outlined plans to create a super app that would offer not just mobility but also loans and microinsurance. Ola has also launched its instant grocery delivery business, Ola Dash, as it seeks to build services beyond ride-hailing, which took a hit post-pandemic.
The company has witnessed a spate of exits in recent months, including its Chief Financial Officer Swayam Saurabh, Chief Operating Officer Gaurav Porwal, HR head Rohit Munjal and General Counsel Sandeep Chowdhury,Aggarwal is the founder of two unicorns- the ride-hailing business Ola and Ola Electric, which has ambitious plans to disrupt the electric two-wheeler market.