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CEO exit highlights Ola’s mounting ride-hailing struggles

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Pranav Balakrishnan

47 reads
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Pranav Balakrishnan

47 reads

Outgoing Ola CEO Hemant Bakshi was meant to scale the platform’s fledgling e-bike taxi business. According to industry executives, though, Ola’s e-bike taxi ambitions have hit multiple speedbumps, even as Ola continues to lose market share to young, hungry competitors such as Rapido and Namma Yatri.

May 08, 2024

11 MINS READ

Key Takeaways

  • Last week, ride-hailing company Ola announced its CEO Hemant Bakshi would be leaving the company after just 8 months at the helm
  • His exit comes at a time when rival Rapido claims to have leapfrogged its older rival in terms of rides per day, largely on the back of its thriving bike-taxi business
  • Meanwhile, Ola’s e-bike taxi business, which it touted as a massive disruptor, is yet to truly scale
  • A reliance on gig workers, the immature EV market, and regulatory headwinds, among others, have hampered its spread

Last week, SoftBank-backed Ola Cabs announced that CEO Hemant Bakshi would leave the company after only eight months at the helm of the ride-hailing unicorn.

For those who have tracked Ola closely or been associated with the company, Bakshi’s exit comes as no surprise. The Ola CEO position is widely viewed as one of the most difficult assignments in the Indian startup ecosystem, having seen constant churn over the past few years. Its allure has only worsened since the advent of Ola’s sister company, two-wheeler EV manufacturer Ola Electric*. Today, many in the industry believe that Ola plays second fiddle to Ola Electric, at least in terms of the priorities of founder Bhavish Aggarwal.

Bakshi was fully aware of what he was getting into. At a press conference in January at Ola’s Bengaluru headquarters, he told the media that many, including his mother, asked him why he was joining Ola after serving for more than three decades at FMCG major Hindustan Unilever. As Bakshi explained it, he was swayed by the disruptive potential of Ola’s EV bike taxi plans.

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