Aadi Vaidya, COO of troubled Singapore fashion startup Zilingo, departs firm

The Zilingo team

Zilingo’s chief operating officer (COO) Aadi Vaidya has left the firm, confirmed the senior executive on Friday.

Vaidya joined the Singapore fashion startup as its vice president, and head of expansion in 2015 and took over as COO in 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to Zilingo, Vaidya had a two-year stint at Citibank India.

His departure follows a series of high-level exits at the firm, whose financial and corporate governance troubles came under the spotlight earlier this year.

Apart from Vaidya, Zilingo’s chief executive officer Ankiti Bose and chief financial officer, Ramesh Bafna have also left the firm in the last three months.

Meanwhile, Zilingo’s board has yet to decide on the fate of the embattled startup. Last month, Zilingo’s board members, which include Sequoia Capital India, Burda Principal Investment and Koru Partners, had gathered to discuss various options left for the firm.

The options include a management buyout plan spearheaded by Zilingo’s chief technology officer, Dhruv Kapoor; a takeover by Zilingo’s creditors, Varde Partners and Indies Capital; or complete liquidation. While the meeting was said to have first taken place in June, DealStreetAsia understands that a decision has yet to be made.

Until then, Zilingo’s regionwide operations continue to whittle away. Last week, media reports said that Zilingo Philippines has laid off its entire team, having failed to pay employee salaries for two months. Zilingo also has offices in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and India.

Zilingo, which has raised over $310 million in venture money from institutional investors like Sequoia Capital India, Temasek Holdings, and Burda Principal Investments, first hit rough waters during the pandemic in 2020.

However, matters fell apart in 2022 when Zilingo’s board members launched an investigation into Bose for issues surrounding “financial mismanagement”.

Kroll was hired for the investigation into Bose and Zilingo, which eventually led to her sacking by the board in May this year. The exact reasons and process of the investigation however were not disclosed to the public. Since then, almost all of Zilingo’s board members — including Sequoia India’s Shailendra Singh and Temasek’s Xu Wei Yang —  have stepped down and been replaced by new members.

The saga has also cast a sharp spotlight on Zilingo’s investors, particularly Sequoia Capital India, which had to grapple with a series of corporate governance issues at other portfolio firms such as BharatPe, Trell, and Zetwerk.

The allegations and investigation also raised questions around the timing of this expose and its investors’ supposed ignorance of Zilingo’s financial troubles.

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