Coming at a time when its business has been hit hard by the pandemic, ride-hailing service Ola has raised $500 million from new and existing investors in the first funding round in the last one and a half year and ahead of its planned IPO. The round was led by Singapore government investment fund Temasek Holdings and Plum Wood Investment Ltd, an affiliate of private equity firm Warburg Pincus, the Bangalore-headquartered startup said in a short statement on Friday.
The transaction means that Ola Chairman and group CEO Bhavish Aggarwal will increase his share to further strengthen his involvement in the management and affairs of ANI Technologies, the parent company of Ola. However, the change in the valuation of Ola was not revealed by either of the companies.
This also marks the first investment by Warburg Pincus in Ola. Temasek had already bought $225 million worth of shares in August 2018.
Ola has had a tough ride (pun intended) over the last one-and-a-half year as the ongoing pandemic hit the mobility sector hard. With the subsequent lockdown, people were less eager to step out of their homes, much less book a ride. The firm reduced its workforce in 2020 and laid off 1400 employees as its revenue went down by a startling 95%. Hopefully, with the easing of the restrictions and the lifting of lockdowns, Ola will make a strong comeback. The firm has been focusing on the launch of its electric vehicles for quite some time, and the production of its electric scooters is due to start soon.
This is a totally new market for Ola, which usually competes in the ride hailing sector with the likes of Uber. Thus, this new fundraise could be seen as the company preparing for a move into uncharted waters.
“Over the last 12 months we’ve made our ride-hailing business more robust, resilient, and efficient,” Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement. “With strong recovery post lockdown and a shift in consumer preference away from public transportation, we are well-positioned to capitalize on the various urban mobility needs of our customers. I welcome Warburg Pincus and Temasek to Ola and look forward to collaborating with them in our next phase of growth.”
Warburg Pincus MD Vishal Mahadevia said, “Warburg is excited to partner with Bhavish and Ola. They are the leading mobile platform and one of India’s biggest consumer internet platforms with a robust and fast-growing business. We look forward to collaborating with Bhavish and the team in the next phase of Ola’s growth.”