Amid the novel COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc on many industries, online travel giant Traveloka has parted ways with one of its C-level executives and is set to see another high profile exit soon, DealStreetAsia has learnt.
The company’s CTO Benjamin Mann left earlier this month. An update on his LinkedIn profile confirmed his exit from the online travel startup. Mann, who had been at Traveloka for almost two-and-a-half years, has joined FoodPanda as CTO for its APAC operations.
According to our sources, his departure is set to be followed by chief investment officer Hendrik Susanto, who is slated to exit the company soon. It is unclear if Mann and Susanto’s departures are linked to the COVID-19 pandemic since their exit discussions are understood to have predated the crisis.
In the case of Susanto, an industry source said he informed the company earlier this year of his plans to leave and had agreed to stay on until April-end.
Meanwhile, the company has also terminated the employment of over 100 staff at lower rungs, according to multiple sources. The layoffs had been much anticipated in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak that has had a ripple effect on the travel industry, our sources added.
Our queries sent to Traveloka on the departure of its C-level executives and the layoffs did not elicit a response.
Traveloka, which offers flight ticket reservations, hotel bookings and lifestyle services, has had to endure a dramatic downturn in demand over the last few weeks caused by the coronavirus scare and the ensuing travel restrictions enforced by governments around the world.
Indonesia, for example, has suspended its visa-free policy and has also banned travel into the archipelago from several countries. President Joko Widodo has urged the public to stay at home and vowed to employ force to disperse crowds and large gatherings.
The escalated threat has stopped people from travelling for business meetings and events.
The sudden turn of events has dealt a blow to Traveloka, which only last year had expanded its operations outside Southeast Asia for the first time when it launched its services in Australia.
Over the past few weeks, Traveloka’s social media accounts have been inundated with queries coming in from impatient customers asking about refunds for their paid flights and accommodations.
These developments come at a time when Southeast Asia’s largest online travel company has been in talks to raise around $500 million in fresh funding.
In April last year, DealStreetAsia had reported that the Indonesian unicorn, which is backed by the likes of global travel company Expedia Group Inc. and Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com, had raised $420 million in a funding round led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC and existing investors.
An industry source said Traveloka’s fundraising is being handled by its chief strategy officer, Joydeep Chakraborty, and that the company had been in talks with a ‘large fund from the Middle East’ for its latest round. DealStreetAsia has been unable to verify the name of this West Asian fund or the status of talks.
Another industry source aware of the developments said the company is sufficiently capitalised and is not in a hurry to close a funding round, adding that Traveloka also had the option of doing a bridge round with GIC.
Traveloka is not the only company to have cut jobs amid the COVID-19 crisis. Indonesia’s most valued startup Gojek is also said to have laid off employees in the last few weeks.