Ride-hailing app Ola's General Counsel Sandeep Chowdhury has quit after a nine-month stint in the firm, people familiar with the development said.
Chowdhury's exit comes weeks after Moneycontrol reported that Ola's Chief Financial Officer Swayam Saurabh and Chief Operating Officer Gaurav Porwal also left the company.
These exits come just ahead of Ola's plans to list on the public markets and are being viewed as a red flag by experts. "The fact that a number of CXOs are quitting ahead of an imminent listing doesn't bode well for any company, let alone an aggressive company like Ola. Additionally, given the various businesses and pivots that Ola has, it should be a red flag when many CXOs quit in a hurry," Shriram Subramanian, founder, and MD, InGovern Research told.
It wasn't immediately clear why Chowdhury quit or his plans going ahead. Moneycontrol has also sent queries to Ola and will update the story when we get a response.
Chowdhury joined ANI Technologies, the parent company of Ola from Nuvoco Vistas Corp, where he was chief general counsel. According to Chowdhury's LinkedIn profile, he looks after legal, regulatory, and compliance matters and manages a team of lawyers. He also provides necessary advice and guidance to senior management and board members, manages outside counsel; handles large, complex transactions, looks after budgets; and is focused on developing the capabilities of the in-house team.
Interestingly, in an article published in LegallyIndia.com in April this year, Chowdhury is quoted saying that he plans to ramp up his team from 10 to 15 members. The legal team is responsible for all of ANI's business verticals- from cab aggregation to food to financial services.
While employee churn is typically high in fast-growing startups amidst a huge demand for tech talent, it is more pronounced at Ola, due to its aggressive work culture. Its founder Bhavish 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.
Other exits in the recent past include Ola's founding member Pranay Jivrajka, Ola Electric's co-founders Ankit Jain and Anand Shah. Nitin Gupta, who was the CEO of Ola Financial Services, also resigned last year, while Ola's chief business officer Sanjay Bhan, also left the company in less than a year.
Ola's core ride-hailing unit is also planning to list on stock exchanges soon, for which it raised $500 million from Warburg Pincus and Temasek, giving early backers Tiger and Matrix a part exit from their stake in the company. While the company has hired bankers for its IPO, it hasn't disclosed by when it plans to go public. The Economic Times recently reported that Ola is finalising a pre-IPO round in the range of $250-$500 million, which will value it at $7 billion.
While COVID-induced lockdowns battered this business in the last year, it has been making a recovery of late as India has opened up significantly in the last few months.
"Over the last 12 months, we have made our ride-hailing business more robust, resilient, and efficient. With a strong recovery post lockdown and shift in consumer preferences away from public transportation, we are well-positioned to capitalise on the various urban mobility needs of our customers," Bhavish Aggarwal, who is the group CEO for Ola, said in a statement in July.
In September, he tweeted stating that the gross merchandise volume (GMV) for Ola crossed pre-COVID levels, adding that the recovery from the second wave of COVID-19 has been three times as faster compared with the first wave.
First Published: IST