In an unprecedented change in Ola’s leadership team, the cab-hailing company’s first employee Pranay Jivrajika has been replaced by an outsider.
Jivrajika was the chief operating officer of Ola and was responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the company. He is replaced by Vishal Kaul, who has worked with PepsiCo since 1999, and in his last role was the general manager of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.
Ola is Uber’s local rival, and is engaged in a turf war of market share with the American firm, as both the companies are burning in the tune of $40-50 million, each, every month.
After Flipkart, Ola is the second large Indian startup, which is trying to institutionalise the company, to be run by executives. Jivrajika has been elevated as the founding partner, and the company said, he will “continue to lead strategic initiative”.
Flipkart, recently, appointed Kalyan Krishnamurthy as its CEO, as co-founder Binny Bansal moved up to become the CEO of the Flipkart Group, which also counts Myntra and Jabong as its businesses.
“Pranay (Jivrajika) has been a partner with Ankit (Bhati, co-founder) and me in every single brick that has been laid since inception, from one booking a day to over a million bookings a day now,” said Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO and co-founder at Ola.
Jivrajika will work closely with Aggarwal on “strategic initiatives”, and that the organisational change will enable him to focus on these initiatives much more sharply, the co-founder said.
Meanwhile, Kaul will look at bringing in some global expertise and a fresh dimension of marketing, scale and business operations, aspects that he has learnt by spending nearly 18 years at global packaged food and beverage maker, PepsiCo.
Aggarwal said that his discussions with Kaul started a few months ago and he enjoyed those interactions. “He is a passionate and experienced business leader with a demonstrated ability to drive business towards growth and profitability. His intuitive understanding of consumer businesses, ecosystem management experience and market understanding is invaluable,” Aggarwal said.