Co-founder and CEO Ankiti Bose’s suspension has more to do with silencing her complaints of sexual harassment against colleagues and not just accounting issues at the high-profile Singapore startup, three senior company officers told YourStory on condition of anonymity.
News reports on Tuesday indicated that new fund-raising efforts at the fashion ecommerce major revealed accounting issues, leading to Ankiti’s suspension.
Zilingo, which has been valued at over $1 billion, has been looking to raise funding since late last year. The reports also suggest that the company’s investors were instrumental in launching the financial investigations that resulted in the suspension.
However, sources within Zilingo and outside claimed that Ankiti’s suspension is a case of retribution for filing complaints against the senior team and management on several harassment-related issues.
“Ankiti had made a harassment complaint about certain people in her organisation and was asked to take leave as she was about to file a case,” one of the sources quoted above said. “She was ‘put on leave’ with false complaints over her performance and threats against her reputation….”
An email sent to Sequoia Capital India, one of Zilingo’s investors, remains unanswered. Both Zilingo and Ankiti have declined to comment on the allegations.
The sources quoted above said Ankiti has been complaining of harassment for close to two years now. Two other sources say that the Zilingo has taken Ankiti’s complaints seriously and all necessary legal steps were being followed.
The company was founded in 2015 by Ankiti, who was working for Sequoia Capital at the time, and IIT Guwahati alumnus Dhruv Kapoor, who was earlier with Yahoo and Kiwi Games.
Initially, the Singapore-based startup wanted to bring different large and small businesses online. The platform had onboarded over 1,500 sellers in Thailand and Singapore who were primarily selling clothing, accessories, bags, shoes, and beauty products to consumers.
Today, Zilingo is no longer just a marketplace. It is a B2B platform that helps digitise every aspect of a seller’s workflow and supply chain. It provides a trading platform and software services to brands, factories, and SMEs.
To date, Zilingo has raised $302 million in funding. It touched the $100 million transaction flow in January 2020. The startup turned unicorn and has a valuation of over $1 billion.
Touted as one of the largest ecommerce players in Southeast Asia, it has over 2,000 distributors, 17,000 merchants and brands, and 600 factories.