As the reports of cofounder Ankit Bhati distancing from the company running rife, Ola has decided to put an end to all the speculations by calling the report “baseless.”
The Bengaluru-based cab-hailing unicorn, in a telephonic conversation with Inc42, said, “There is nothing like that, whatever has been reported. Further, we do not want to engage in any conversation regarding this because it is baseless.”
Earlier, Ola also gave a statement to Moneycontrol following the publication of the story. “We strongly deny any such development of Ankit Bhati moving on from Ola; this is completely false and an agenda engineered with vested interests. Ankit Bhati is a co-founder and is core to Ola and its journey. It is, therefore, a shame that baseless rumour mongering and speculation is being fanned,” a company spokesperson told the website.
The report, published in MoneyControl on October 12, states that Ola’s cofounder has stopped looking into day-to-day matters and has also stopped “coming to office for more than two months”. The report also hinted at his potential distancing from the company due to some internal conflict with the other cofounders Bhavish Agarwal.
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The report, citing some sources, stated that “problems” between the two started when the Foodpanda and Ola began in 2017. It also said that there were technology glitches and “Bhavish didn’t behave well with Bhati at public meetings”.
Meanwhile, Bhati continues to hold a stake in Ola’s parent company ANI technologies and is also on the company’s board. Moreover, Bhati reportedly does not have any involvement in Ola’s newest venture Ola Electric Mobility (OEM), which has already entered the unicorn club. It is also reported that Bhati does not own any direct stake in the company either and his minor holding in the OEM is through his stake in ANI technologies.
Ola Prepares Aggressively To Go Public
The report sprung up at a time when Ola is preparing to go public and has also set up a pre-IPO fund. The company has also received fresh capital infusion from the fund for general business activities.
According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs filings accessed by Inc42, the company on September 27 received INR 35.88 Cr ($5.05 Mn) in Series J funding round from ARK Ola Pre IPO Fund. The filings showed that the company has allotted 16885 shares at a nominal value of INR 10 with a premium of INR 21,240 per share.
Previous reports also suggest that Ola has set up an initial team of over a dozen employees to work on the IPO preparations. The company had also demanded changes in the guidelines for a public listing for tech startups, specifically the rules around promoter holdings.
The reports of Bhati’s distancing might not be very comforting, especially at the time when Ola is aggressively looking to go public.
Ola, founded in January 2011, has been offering its services in over 50 cities in India, UK, Australia and New Zealand. It has also raised over $3.8 Bn from investors such as SoftBank, Ratan Tata, Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors, Sachin Bansal and others.