Foodpanda, Ola likely to see a major overhaul in top leadership posts

Foodpanda could see a major overhaul in its top leadership with several senior executives set to leave the group company and some others likely to be transferred back to Ola, four independent sources told Business Standard.

Meanwhile, in the cabs vertical, Ola may see more exits from the senior leadership team. Nimish Joshi, the vice-president and head of strategic development, and senior director Pranav Mehta are learnt to be among the executives to have expressed their wish to quit. Ola, however, has been trying to retain some of them, according to sources in the know. 

This is an important period in Ola’s lifecycle as it tries to raise a big round of funding without two of its major investors (Tiger Global and SoftBank), especially as its biggest rival, Uber, prepares for an IPO. In its IPO prospectus, Uber mentions Zomato and Swiggy by name as potential competitors. The pressure to be in conversation with the two food tech unicorns is weighing on Ola, even more so after the high profile acquisition of Foodpanda in 2017. 

A detailed email was sent to Ola but there has been no reply from the company despite repeated reminders. 

Among others, Joshi’s exit could hit Ola as he’s the M&A brain in the company. The IIM graduate was poached from InMobi where he led mergers and acquisitions for the ad-tech company. He held a similar role inside Ola and was responsible for the acquisition of Ridlr in 2018, the investment in Vogo, the acquisition of the then dying Mumbai-based cloud kitchen company, HolaChef,  etc. Mehta was the de facto head of Delhi NCR and the northern region for Ola and was supposed to take a senior leadership role as Ola continues its internal restructuring.

Earlier In January, one of Ola’s earliest employees Pallav Singh had resigned from the company. Singh, who was part of co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal’s A team, has stayed on in a part-time role. Singh was also tasked with handling TaxiForSure (TFS) post its acquisition. “It was a tough job running TFS at that time. He was asked to handle and turnaround a company where all the founders and senior executives were leaving,” said a former executive who had worked with Singh at the time. 

“Part of the exits in the first instance was due to people being transferred from Ola to Foodpanda,” said a former employee at Ola who quit during the transition. He added that Ola then quickly replaced those who had been pushed to Foodpanda in Ola so there is no talent crunch. 

“But then the CEO’s focus changed. It went from Foodpanda back to Ola and when that happened people were pushed back,” he said. This created confusion and redundancies within the firm. “Some jumped before they were pushed,” said another former Ola employee who quit during the latest instance.  According to sources, over the last two months, almost a dozen mid-level employees are said to have jumped ship. 

The exact destinations of Mehta and Joshi are as yet unknown but there is likely to be a cooling off period before they take up jobs elsewhere.

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