SoftBank’s Jonathan Bullock quits boards of Ola, Snapdeal and Housing

SoftBank managing director David Thevenon is likely to replace Jonathan Bullock and join the boards of Ola and Snapdeal


Ola and Snapdeal are both currently looking to raise fresh funds. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Ola and Snapdeal are both currently looking to raise fresh funds. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Bengaluru: SoftBank Group’s chief operating officer Jonathan Bullock has resigned from the boards of two of the Japanese firm’s most prominent portfolio companies in India, Ola and Snapdeal.

Bullock has also resigned from the board of Housing.com (Locon Solutions Pvt. Ltd), which counts SoftBank as its largest investor, according to a regulatory filing. SoftBank managing director David Thevenon is likely to replace Bullock and join the boards of Ola (ANI Technologies Ltd.) and Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt Ltd.), according a person directly aware of the developments.

Silicon Valley-based Thevenon, a former Google executive, currently sits on the boards of other prominent start-ups such as Singapore-based ride-hailing firm Grab.

In one of the regulatory filings issued on Friday, Bullock said he was resigning from the boards of both start-ups due to “personal reasons and other obligations.”

“Please be informed that due to other obligations, I will no longer continue as a director of ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd and wish to be relieved of my duties and responsibilities with effect from January 16, 2017. Accordingly I hereby tender my resignation which may be accepted at the earliest,” Bullock said in one of the filings.

Bullock wrote a similarly worded email to the board of directors at Snapdeal and Housing.com.

“This is standard procedure and is unrelated to any current operations at Snapdeal, Ola or other boards. SBGI Managing Directors, Kabir Misra and David Thevenon, will be the primary leads on Snapdeal and Ola respectively, going forward. Mr Bullock will work actively with Mr Misra and Mr Thevenon, as well as the Snapdeal and Ola leadership, to avoid continuity challenges,” said SoftBank in an email to Mint.

A SoftBank spokeswoman later clarified that Bullock is on the board of the newly-merged Proptiger-Housing entity. Bullock had stepped down from Housing’s board following the startup’s merger with Proptiger, since the controlling entities were changed and it required him to first step down from Housing, before joining the new board of the merged Proptiger-Housing entity.

“Because of the merger, the controlling entities were changed, which meant stepping down from that board and joining the fresh one—Proptiger-Housing—which has a different name,” SoftBank said in an email.

Bullock had joined the boards of the three companies after former SoftBank president Nikesh Arora quit those boards in early 2015.

Japan’s SoftBank has already written down as much as 58.1 billion yen ($555 million) in two of its biggest investments in India, Ola and Snapdeal, according to regulatory filings posted in November.

Ola and Snapdeal are both currently looking to raise fresh funds. In June last year Mint reported that Ola was looking to raise $300-400 million from existing and new investors.

In January, Mint also reported that Snapdeal has initiated discussions to raise fresh funds largely from existing investor SoftBank Group Corp. at a significantly lower valuation.

On February 2, Mint reported US-based investment firm Vanguard Group has slashed the valuation of its stake in Ola, which is India’s largest ride-hailing app and is currently in the middle of a defining market-share battle with arch-rival Uber Technologies.

SoftBank is one of the most deep-pocketed start-up investors in the world. It is also among the most prolific start-up investors, with a portfolio of anywhere between 1,300 and 1,500 companies, according to various media reports. SoftBank’s new $100-billion technology fund, Softbank Vision Fund, is currently on track to close soon, and has already attracted investments from the sovereign wealth funds of Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, the family office of Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison, Apple Inc., Foxconn Technology Group Ltd, and Qualcomm Inc.

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