Technology

Timeline: How Zilingo fired cofounder and CEO Ankiti Bose


After over a months-long dispute, Singapore-based B2B ecommerce firm Zilingo
fired its cofounder and chief executive, Ankiti Bose, on May 20 over alleged financial irregularities.

Bose cofounded Zilingo with Dhruv Kapoor in 2015 and was celebrated as one of the most promising female founders in the tech startup ecosystem. So how did she end up getting fired from her own company?

Here’s a look at how the saga unfolded:

April 12: Bloomberg reports that
Bose was suspended until May 5 after Zilingo shareholders found alleged financial irregularities in the company’s accounts while it was in the midst of raising $150-200 million from investors. The report says Bose was called to a meeting with three board members on March 31 and told about “serious” complaints about discrepancies in accounts and mismanagement. Bose calls the company’s actions a
“witch hunt”.

April 14: Two days later, Sequoia Capital India’s Shailendra Singh
steps down from the company board amidst the investigation.

April 19: Zilingo’s board discusses
replacing Bose as chief executive officer, reports Bloomberg.
ETtech reported that company CFO Ramesh Bafna may be given the CEO role.

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May 4:
ETtech reported that the Zilingo board had appointed Deloitte to launch a probe into Bose’s claims of sexual harassment, which she made after she was suspensed.

The same day, cofounder and chief technology officer Dhruv Kapoor
pens an internal note to the company employees, defending the company.

“You may have heard that there is an allegation made that certain individuals at Zilingo ‘suppressed’ complaints of harassment. We’ve always had a culture that does not tolerate sexual harassment, workplace harassment, bullying, or intimidation … In rare cases when workplace issues were reported, we’ve always followed due process and taken strict action,” Kapoor said in the note, which ET has seen.

May 14: Zilingo debtholders
recall their entire loan, after which the company appoints a financial adviser to assess its options.

“Due to Zilingo’s failure to fulfil prior obligations under the loan agreement, the company’s lenders have made the decision to accelerate the repayment of the entire loan,” read a statement by the board.

May 20: Zilingo fires Bose and says in a statement, “Following an investigation led by an independent forensics firm that was commissioned to look into complaints of serious financial irregularities, the company has decided to terminate Ankiti Bose’s employment with cause and reserves the right to pursue appropriate legal action.”

Reacting to her sacking, Bose says, “I was suspended on the basis that the company had instructed Kroll to investigate the complaint. I have neither seen the Kroll nor the Deloitte reports and not been given sufficient time to produce any documents requested by them. Any report that comes out post my termination, would be vitiated as it seems to be instructed by conflicted parties and we will pursue our rights against this witch-hunt to the full extent of the law.”

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