Indian ride-hailing company Ola follows Uber with job cuts as revenue sinks

Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal. Photo: Bloomberg

SoftBank Group-backed Indian ride-hailing company Ola will cut 1,400 jobs, or about 35% of its workforce, as it navigates a strict coronavirus lockdown that has halted 95% of its business, company chief Bhavish Aggarwal told employees on Wednesday.

Launched a decade ago in Mumbai, Ola has been fighting for dominance with Uber in dozens of Indian cities. It also has operations in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, partnering with around 2.5 million drivers.

Both ride-hailing companies have been hammered by a two-month-long lockdown that has kept 1.3 billion Indians indoors and halted app-based cabs and rickshaws. Local media reports said Uber has cut 700 of its estimated 2,000-2,500 employees.

The U.S. firm, which has sold both its Chinese and South-East Asia businesses to local rivals, on Monday made more job cuts that meant it has reduced staffing by more than a third globally since the start of the crisis.

Uber declined to say whether it has cut jobs in India.

“The prognosis ahead for our business is very unclear and uncertain. It is going to take a long time for people to go out and about like before,” Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola‘s co-founder and CEO, said in a note to employees on the company’s blog.

Sources at SoftBank‘s Vision Fund, which holds stakes in both Uber and Ola, said it previously considered pushing for a merger of the two companies, but abandoned the idea due to concerns it would create a monopoly and be vetoed by regulators.

Ola joins a list of local start-ups, including the local franchise of another SoftBankbacked venture, WeWork, restaurant aggregator Zomato and food delivery service Swiggy that have laid off employees in recent weeks.

Analysts say many were ripe for stripping down after feasting on a boom in private equity funding seeking to cash in on India’s growing middle class and fast-growing cities.

Reuters

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.