Ahead of IPO, after CFO and COO, Ola’s general counsel resigns

While employee churn is generally high in fast-growing startups amid huge demand for tech talent, it is more pronounced at Ola due to its aggressive work culture.

People familiar with the development said that ride-hailing app Ola’s general counsel Sandeep Choudhary has quit after a nine-month stint at the firm. 

Weeks after Chowdhury’s exit, Moneycontrol reported that Ola’s chief financial officer Saurabh himself and chief operating officer Gaurav Porwal had also left the company.

These exits come just ahead of Ola’s plans to list in the public markets and are being seen as a red flag by experts. Sriram Subramaniam, founder and MD, InGovern Research explained, “the fact that many CXOs are moving ahead of an imminent listing does not bode well for any company, let alone an aggressive one like Ola. Additionally, given Ola’s diverse businesses and pivot, it should be a red flag when many CXOs leave in a hurry”.

It was not immediately clear why Chowdhury resigned or why his plan was going ahead. Moneycontrol has also sent queries to Ola and we will update the story once we get a response.

Chowdhury joined Ola’s parent company ANI Technologies from Nuvoco Vistas Corp, where he was the Chief General Counsel. According to Chowdhury’s LinkedIn profile, he oversees 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 an external advisor; Handles large, complex transactions, looks after the budget; and focuses on developing the capabilities of the internal team. 

Interestingly, an article published in legalindia.com in April this year quoted Chowdhury as saying that he was planning to increase his team from 10 to 15. The legal team is responsible for all business verticals of ANI – from cab aggregation to food to financial services. 

While employee churn is generally high in fast-growing startups amid huge demand for tech talent, it is more pronounced at Ola due to its aggressive work culture. Its founder Bhavish Agarwal is the founder of two unicorns- ride-hailing businesses Ola and Ola Electric, which have ambitious plans to disrupt the electric two-wheeler market. 

Other exits in the recent past include Ola founder member Pranay Jivrajka, Ola Electric co-founders Ankit Jain and Anand Shah. Nitin Gupta, who was the CEO of Ola Financial Services, also resigned last year, while Sanjay Bhan, chief business officer of Ola, also left the company in less than a year. 

Ola’s core ride-hailing unit also plans to list on stock exchanges soon, for which it raised $500 million from Warburg Pincus and Temasek, allowing early backers Tiger and Matrix to exit their stake in the company. While the company has hired bankers for its IPO, it has not disclosed when it plans to go public. The Economic Times recently reported that Ola is finalizing a pre-IPO round in the range of $250-$500 million, which will be valued at $7 billion.

While the COVID-induced lockdown battered businesses last year, it has been recovering of late as India has been quite open over the past few months. 

For information, visit- Moneycontrol.com