Homegrown cab aggregator Ola has laid off 1,400 employees as its revenue take a hit amid the coronavirus lockdown. CEO Bhavish Agarwal said that their revenue has dipped 95 per cent in the last 2 months. "Our revenue has come down 95 per cent over the past 2 months. Most importantly, this crisis has affected the livelihoods of millions of our drivers and their families across India and our international geographies," said Aggarwal in a blog.
Aggarwal said in the blog that they had hoped in the beginning that this would be a short-lived crisis and the impact would be temporary. However, he said, the Ola leadership team has taken significant salary cuts to keep tougher decisions at bay. "And 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," he said. He pointed out that people are preferring to work from home and air travel has also been limited to essential trips, resulting in long-drawn implications for the company. "The world is not going to revert to the pre-COVID era anytime soon. Social distancing, anxiety, and an abundance of caution will be the operating principles for everyone," said Aggarwal.
The Ola CEO said that we will have to learn to live with the virus and resultant implications. He also said that the company has undertaken several initiatives to help the driver partners in distress. Lease rental waivers, zero interest loans or Ola Sahyog, individual and institutional contributions such as Drive The Driver Fund, citizen initiatives such as Ola Emergency and Ola Connects are some of the measures undertaken by the company to help the drivers as well as frontline workers amid the pandemic.
Aggarwal added that he personally spent significant time reviewing and revisiting every aspect of this exercise. "These decisions are not reflective of anyone's performance and are purely a function of the uncontrollable circumstances that we have been faced with," he added.
The Human Resource team at Ola would have one-on-one conversations with every impacted employee, said Aggarwal in the blog. All the impacted employees would receive a minimum financial payout of three months of their fixed salary irrespective of the notice period. "All eligible ESOPs will vest forward to the closest quarter. For those who may not have completed a year, as an exception, we will enable pro-rated vesting for the period of time spent with us," he said.
Life and accident insurance of all of the impacted employees would continue till December 31 or start of the next job - whichever is earlier. Medical insurance to two parents or in-laws up to 90 years of age and a sum of Rs 2 lakh would also be offered by the company till December 31. Ola would also extend outplacement support to its affected employees.
"This will be a one time exercise and will be complete by the end of this week for our India Mobility business and by the end of next week for Ola foods and Ola Financial Services. No more COVID related cuts will be done after this exercise," he said. Bhavish Aggarwal said, "I'm filled with a lot of emotion and sadness as I write this email, but also with strong hope and resolve to rebuild our business, and create the future that we envision, together."