CEO of $970m fashion e-commerce startup in Singapore suspended: reports

  • Ziling board members have suspended CEO Ankiti Bose amid a financial probe, according to reports.
  • Investors are concerned about the startup’s accounting practices, Reuters and Bloomberg reported.
  • Zilingo was founded in 2015 and reached a valuation of $970 million four years later.

A $970 million fashion e-commerce startup in Singapore has suspended its CEO after investors launched an investigation into the company’s accounting practices, Bloomberg and Reuters reported this week, citing unnamed sources.

Ankiti Bose, 30, co-founded Zilingo in 2015 with Dhruv Kapoor. In 2019, Zilingo raised $226 million from its investors, pushing its valuation to $970 million, according to Bloomberg.

On Wednesday, Zilingo said its board members had decided to suspend Bose while an investigation into “matters” was underway, Reuters reported.

The company did not specify the subject of the investigation to Reuters, but unnamed sources told Reuters and Bloomberg that the investigation related to the company’s financial and accounting practices. These include how the startup kept transaction and revenue records, sources told Bloomberg. The company has avoided filing annual financial statements since 2019.

Bose and co-founder Kapoor met in Bengaluru, India in 2014, where they shared an idea to help small players produce, source and market fashion apparel. They made Singapore the base of the company, Bloomberg reported in 2019. The investigation and suspension of Bose threatens to derail Bose’s efforts to achieve unicorn status from the startup it co-founded.

Zilingo’s big investors Temasek Holdings and Sequoia Capital raised concerns with its board last month, sources told Bloomberg and Reuters.

“Lead investors have engaged an independent firm to investigate the matter, and the company is working closely with lead investors and the independent firm for the investigation,” Zilingo said in a statement to Reuters.

Bose challenged Zilingo’s board decision to suspend her and called it a “witch hunt,” according to correspondence seen by Bloomberg. The outlet was the first to report Bose’s suspension.

“We are of the view that our client’s suspension was obtained by invalid and faulty means, that the investigation against her is unfair and not in accordance with due process, and that she was suspended without just cause. and reasonable,” Bose’s attorney told Bloomberg. .

Zilingo, Bose and his attorney did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Zilingo has offices in Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and India, according to Bloomberg. In 2020, the company laid off dozens of its 900 employees as Southeast Asia imposed COVID lockdowns, according to a company blog post and a previous Bloomberg report.

As these economies reopen, Zilingo anticipates better finances in the years to come. By the end of 2021, he predicted that base net income would grow from around $40 million this fiscal year to around $60 million in fiscal 2022, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

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