SoftBank-backed Ola to cut about 35% workforce amid COVID-19 crisis

FILE PHOTO – A policeman speaks to an Ola employee outside its office in Mumbai, India October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

BENGALURU (Reuters) – SoftBank Group-backed Indian ride-hailing company Ola will cut 1,400 jobs, or about 35% of its workforce, as it tries to navigate the coronavirus crisis, its chief executive officer said in a note to employees.

Ola joins a list of start-ups, including SoftBank-backed WeWork, restaurant aggregator Zomato and food delivery service Swiggy, that have laid off employees to cut costs as the pandemic wreaks havoc on businesses and forces people to stay indoors.

Earlier this week, rival Uber Technologies Inc said it will cut 23% of its global workforce in an attempt to become profitable amid the crisis.

“The prognosis ahead for our business is very unclear and uncertain. It is going to take a long time for people to go out and about like before,” Bhavish Aggarwal, Ola’s co-founder and CEO, said in a note to employees that was published on the company’s blog (here) on Wednesday.

Revenue at Ola, which employs around 4,000 people, has come down 95% over the past two months, Aggarwal said.

“With more companies preferring to have a large number of employees work from home, air travel limited to essential trips and vacations being put off for better times, the impact of this crisis is definitely going to be long-drawn for us,” he said.

India has extended a nationwide lockdown until end-May as the government tries to contain the spread of the virus.

Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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