Ola has been grappling with senior-level exits for several months now. Since late last year, over a dozen employees at functions such as senior vice president, vice president, director and vertical heads have resigned from the SoftBank-backed ride-hailing firm.
When it comes to 2020, Ola has faced its sixth major exit with the resignation of Ola Electric’s chief business officer (CBO) Sanjay Bhan. The exit of Bhan within eight months of taking over at the driving seat of the company is undoubtedly a jolt for the firm.
ET first reported Bhan’s resignation. Entrackr has also verified his exit independently. Bhan joined the firm with a responsibility to onboard partners and launch electric two and four-wheelers commercially. He’s a veteran in the automobile space with over a three-decade stint at Hero Motocorp.
“The exodus of employees at senior levels for Ola Electric isn’t a good sign at all, especially when the company has been facing the worst phase due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said a venture capitalist, on condition of anonymity.
Ride-hailing apps, including Ola and Uber, have hardly regained a quarter of their business as compared to the pre-Covid times. “Keeping the senior team intact is an utmost priority for companies like Ola Electric that is set to commence its operations next year. The back-to-back exits may impact the company’s projected timeline of launch,” added the VC mentioned above.
Ola’s spokesperson declined to comment on Bhan’s exit.
Bhan has turned out to be a second top-most employee to resign from Ola’s ecosystem after a short stint. Last week, Arun Srinivas, COO and global chief marketing officer of Ola quit within a year of joining. At the same time, senior vice president Sanjiv Saddy who was looking after corporate affairs and relationships with government agencies for the company also resigned. His tenure at the firm lasted only eight months.
At the beginning of this year, Naroo Krishnan, head of products at Ola Mobility and Sanjay Kharb, vice president for engineering at Ola, quit the company.
Ola Electric is the first startup to turn into a unicorn in the electric vehicle space. Besides running electric vehicles, the company also wants to manufacture two-wheelers with the acquisition of Amsterdam-based electric scooter manufacturer – Etergo.
Incorporated in 2017, Ola Electric’s valuation jumped from a few thousand dollars to a billion dollars within six months of Bhavish Aggarwal picking up a 92.5% in the company last year. The exclusion of Ankit Bhati (the other co-founder of Ola) from the company had created a rift between the two founders. The way Aggarwal had sidelined Bhati from the electric mobility arm raised concerns over corporate governance as well.