ola ceo bhavish aggarwal: Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal to step away from daily ops, will focus on future projects

Bengaluru: On March 29, two days after an
Ola electric scooter caught fire in Pune, the company’s chief executive officer (CEO) Bhavish Aggarwal sent out a email to employees, saying he would be stepping away from day-to-day operations at many of the mobility firm’s core businesses and instead focus on engineering, product and team building at future businesses such as electric vehicles (EV) and quick commerce. ET has reviewed the email sent by Aggarwal.

He said in the note that Ola’s group chief financial officer (CFO) Arun GR would be given an expanded role to “drive the day-to-day operations” across the group. Arun is also the chief financial officer at Ola Electric and heads Ola Financial Services, the company’s fintech arm, on an interim basis. He has worked across the company’s many businesses, including Ola Electric, auto retail and quick commerce, according to the note. He joined Ola last May, before which he spent eight years at Vedanta Resources Plc and another eight at General Electric.

“I’ll be spending more time with all engineering functions, team building, and on product,” Aggarwal wrote in the email. “I’ll also be increasing my focus on our long-term strategic projects including new 2W (two-wheeler) products, our car project, innovations in quick commerce, electrifying ride hailing, our (battery) cell R&D and factory, international expansion, building out our Pune tech centre and Futurefoundary, UK and more.”

The internal rejig comes as Ola is facing several challenges. Its newly launched S1 Pro electric scooter caught fire in Pune on March 27 and many customers have been complaining about the new scooters, leading to wider scrutiny of EVs.

Ola Electric is investigating the issue and is yet to find the root cause of the problem. EV companies plan to work closely with component and battery manufacturers to
improve the safety of their scooters as this could flatten EVs sales in the country.

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Moneycontrol reported on the management changes earlier on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ola is also
acquiring Avail Finance, a company founded by Aggarwal’s brother Ankush Aggarwal, in a share swap deal worth $50 million. ET reported on April 11 that the board had approved the related-party transaction. Ankush is expected to lead the business of Ola Financial Services, according to a source aware of the matter. ET
had reported that he would be primarily responsible for the lending business.

In the run-up to its IPO, Ola is aggressively looking to diversify and position itself as a super app with several new high-growth businesses like a second-hand car market and online grocery delivery.

Also Read:
Deep-dive on Ola’s struggles to build a super app and the challenges it faces as it prepares to go public

In December, the mobility company
raised $139 million from Edelweiss and IIFL at a $7.3 billion valuation.
ET was the first to report about the deal on November 12.

ET also reported on December 16 that
Ola had raised $500 million in debt funding through a Term Loan (B), commonly known as TLB, to bolster many of these businesses — from fintech to quick commerce and second-hand cars. TLBs are loans that can be repaid in five to seven years. A large part of the principal needs to be repaid only towards the end of the loan period, giving the borrower more flexibility.

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Divyansh Singh

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