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How Ankiti Bose-led Zilingo's upcoming unicorn round landed the firm in trouble

How Ankiti Bose-led Zilingo's upcoming unicorn round landed the firm in trouble

The company was in talks with investors to raise $150-200 million at over $1 billion valuation after a gap of nearly two years.

In 2019, Zilingo had raised $226 million in a fund-raising round led by Sequoia Capital,Temasek and Burdal Principal Investments at $970 million valuation. (Photo: Twitter) In 2019, Zilingo had raised $226 million in a fund-raising round led by Sequoia Capital,Temasek and Burdal Principal Investments at $970 million valuation. (Photo: Twitter)

In the start-up ecosystem, raising a substantial quantum of capital after roping in investors primarily necessitates a due diligence to look into the company's account books. In B2B fashion e-commerce platform Zilingo, the same process was underway which took a new turn when the company initiated a probe into the alleged financial irregularities in which the firm's CEO and co-founder, Ankiti Bose, was reported to be involved.

After a gap of nearly two years, the Singapore-headquartered company was in talks with investors to raise $150-200 million at over $1 billion valuation, which if it would have concluded, would have taken the company into the envious unicorn club. In 2019, Zilingo had raised $226 million in a fund-raising round led by Sequoia Capital,Temasek and Burdal Principal Investments at $970 million valuation.

It was at this time when investors were carrying out due-diligence for this latest fund raise, when a probe was ordered and Bose was suspended. Meanwhile, the company's various board of directors, which includes names like Shailendra Singh, the managing director of Sequoia India, quit. Singh was one of the high-profile names to quit the troubled firm's board, and this news came after the departures of Temasek Holdings' Xu Wei Yang and Burda Principal Investments' Albert Shyy, as per a Bloomberg report.

This sudden trail of high-profile exits has left Zilingo in a limbo. The investigations have taken into cognizance the revenues of the company and the transactions with the merchants who were onboarded on the platform.  Sequoia Capital, meanwhile, is reported to be looking for a replacement in the Zilingo board.

Queries sent to Sequoia Capital did not elicit any response at the time of filing this story. 

Meanwhile, a Zilingo spokesperson replied in response to multiple queries sent by BT: "We are unable to comment on the matter as it's an ongoing investigation and kept very confidential."

Founded by Bose, an ex-Sequoia capital investment analyst along with Dhruv Kapoor, who is also the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Zilingo, the platform started off as a fashion e-commerce company in 2015 and then pivoted to a full-stack supply chain platform connecting manufacturers and retailers.

"Over the years, it has evolved into an end-to-end enabler that gives raw material suppliers, fabric mills, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, brands and retailers access to commerce, software and services that optimise processes at scale, create cost efficiencies and support sustainable growth. Our sales volume exceeds $1 billion annually," the company had said in an earlier statement.

CEO's sexual harassment allegations

While Bose was suspended earlier this week following her alleged involvement in financial irregularities , the ex-Zilingo boss, as per a Bloomberg report, has said that there is a "witch hunt" going on against her after she raised complaints of sexual harassment against some colleagues and company management. Sources within the company told Business Today that Bose was on the verge of filing a complaint against the company management when she was ousted from the firm.

Queries sent to Bose remained unanswered.

The 29-year-old Bose is a Xaviers College graduate who worked as a management consultant with Mc.Kinsey and later moved to Sequoia India. Bose later teamed up with Kapoor to turn her idea of fashion tech marketplace into a business and, in a matter of a few years, the company expanded its presence to 8 countries with 600-people workforce. Zilingo has raised a total of $308 million till date.

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