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Zomato Parts Ways with Cofounder after Alibaba Announcement

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Apr. 4 2018, Published 11:40 a.m. ET

Shakeup of senior management preceded Chaddah’s departure

Zomato cofounder Pankaj Chaddah has left the company after ten years of guiding the online food ordering startup. Chaddah said he was moving away from Zomato to explore other opportunities, but he didn’t elaborate. Chaddah announced his departure in early March but said he would stay on until the end of the month to enable a smooth transition.

Zomato made a number of changes in key management roles in the months leading up to Chaddah’s exit. For example, Mukund Kulashekaran was promoted to chief business officer, according to the Economic Times newspaper. Kulashekaran had previously been head of online ordering. Zomato also promoted Gaurav Gupta to chief operating officer from his previous role as global head of advertising sales.

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Chaddah owns 3.1% of Zomato

Chaddah reportedly owns more than 3.1% of Zomato, a stake he’s expected to retain even after leaving the company.

Of note is that the announcement of Chaddah’s exit coincided with Zomato’s confirmation that it had recently raised ~$200 million from Alibaba (BABA) affiliate Ant Financial in a deal valuing it at more than $1.0 billion. It’s unclear whether Chaddah’s departure is tied to the Alibaba investment, although Chaddah’s tweets sought to portray an amicable breakup.

China in India

Alibaba’s investment in Zomato followed a series of backings of other tech startups in India. But Alibaba is far from being the only Chinese Internet giant showing an appetite for India’s technology market. Tencent (TCEHY) recently reported a $115 million investment in Indian streaming music service Gaana. Tencent, alongside eBay (EBAY) and Microsoft (MSFT), also backs Amazon’s (AMZN) India rival Flipkart. Amazon is also interested in India’s digital music revenue.

In 2016, Chinese search engine company Baidu (BIDU) was linked to possible investments in Indian startups such as Zomato, BigBasket, and BookMyShow.

Alibaba’s revenue rose 56% year-over-year to $12.8 billion in fiscal 3Q18 (the quarter that ended in December 2017).

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