Zilingo Ex-CEO Ankiti Bose’s Management Style Undermined Business: Report
Bose had a management style which undermined the business and alienated employees, a report suggests.
From the outside, Zilingo's collapse seemed sudden, but insiders saw red flags years ago as tensions began rising within the top management, according to a new report by Bloomberg.
Bose, described as a celebrity who travelled across the globe to speak at tech gatherings, had a management style which undermined the business and alienated employees, those who worked under her told the publication.
Fixated on 'Crazy Growth'
Ankiti Bose was prone to a pattern of diving headfirst and splurging money on new initiatives intended to spark explosive growth, even if it was unclear if they would help, sources told Bloomberg.
For instance, after it raised $54 million from investors, Zilingo spent $1 million to take nine social-media influencers to Morocco for an extravagant trip in hopes that this would quickly draw more users. This effort reportedly brought in only 10,000 new users.
In another instance, Bose suggested a plan that would lead to Zilingo effectively paying merchants to trade with each other. While the gross merchandise value rose for a brief period due to this, Zilingo didn't make any money, an ex-employee told Bloomberg.
Bose was reportedly chasing "crazy growth" in order to to catch the attention of Japanese tech titan, Masayoshi Son, who heads the investment giant SoftBank Group. She met him twice but wasn't able to secure his backing, according to the report.
Bose was also known to treat employees harshly. Former employees told the publication that she ruled by fear and often publicly shamed people. One described her as a narcissist who would throw anyone under the bus to save her own reputation, the report said.
Falling Out With Sequoia
Zilingo, despite internal issues, managed to raise $226 million from investors including Sequoia Capital and Temasek Holdings in 2019, raising its valuation to about $1 billion.
However, the company was bleeding money at an alarming rate. The $226 million were gone in less than two years, according to Bloomberg. The Singapore-based company is now trying to stay afloat.
The mounting financial pressures reportedly led to Bose's falling out with longtime supporter Shailendra Singh, head of Sequoia India, who suggested she step down and hand the reigns over to a new CEO.
Singh lost faith in Bose's management, while she felt like she had been betrayed by him, people familiar with their relationship told the publication.
In 2021, the startup found that investors were no longer willing to part with their money. Some were reportedly concerned about the evidence of merchant fraud in Indonesia, where users were allegedly making fake transactions to take advantage of subsidies.
After Ankiti Bose's removal, Sequoia has shifted gears to focus more on solid corporate governance in the startups that it funds.
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