Bengaluru/New Delhi: Cab-hailing service Ola is planning to hire several senior management executives under founders Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, joining other top e-commerce firms like Flipkart and Snapdeal in recruiting more experienced and established senior leaders to manage its transition to a large company from a start-up.

Ola, India’s third most valuable start-up after Flipkart and Snapdeal, is looking for at least three new recruits—a new chief product officer, an engineering head and a general counsel, four people familiar with the matter said, on condition of anonymity.

Ola confirmed it is looking for three senior people.

Run by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, Ola is also planning to add senior executives in other functions, the people said.

The company’s current engineering head Swaminathan Seetharaman as well as three mid-level tech executives are leaving, the people cited above said.

Ola is considering candidates based in Silicon Valley for the engineering and product roles, they said.

Earlier this month, Ola said it appointed Sundeep Sahni, a former senior executive at Rocket Internet-funded Lazada, as vice-president of new initiatives.

“Among the big e-commerce players, Ola is the one that hasn’t yet brought in a lot of senior people from outside. It was just a matter of time as their growth has been phenomenal over the past year and now they need experienced hands to manage the growth and help them scale faster," one of the people cited above said.

Flipkart and Snapdeal have already made wholesale changes to their management teams. Over the past four months, Snapdeal, promoted by Jasper Infotech Pvt Ltd, hired a new engineering head, a chief product officer, a chief marketing officer and two senior executives in finance. Many of Snapdeal’s older executives, including chief financial officer Aakash Moondhra and chief technology officer Amitabh Misra, left as the new leaders came in.

Flipkart, too, has hired a new chief financial officer, a chief product officer, an engineering head and several senior operations executives, over the past nine months.

Soaring valuations are helping Ola, Flipkart and Snapdeal attract top talent. Ola is close to raising $500 million at a valuation of $5 billion from existing investors which include SoftBank, Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital, The Economic Times reported on 28 July. Mint reported the talks first on 21 May. All three start-ups are offering fat salaries and stock options worth millions of dollars to their senior-most recruits.

“Some of these start-ups have grown beyond imagination, and the growth has happened in a very short span of time," said Sandeep Ladda, India technology leader with PricewaterhouseCoopers(PwC).

“To deal with this sudden growth and to further scale up their businesses these companies will need senior executives with experience of dealing with large businesses and hence you will see a lot of rejig happening at senior management level," he added.

Ola, Flipkart and Snapdeal are strengthening their management team with executives who can prepare them for initial public offerings (IPO) within the next two years or so. These companies also need experienced hands as the stakes get higher in the scramble for market dominance. Flipkart and Snapdeal are battling Amazon India in India’s fast-growing e-commerce market. Ola is battling US-based Uber Technologies Inc. in taxi-hailing services.

Uber, one of the world’s two most valuable venture-backed companies, said on Thursday it will invest as much as $1 billion in India within nine months, highlighting its ambition to become the top taxi-hailing service here.

Though Ola has a significant lead over Uber currently, the US-based company is fast expanding in India. Uber said earlier this month it would expand into seven new cities, taking its presence to 18 cities in India.

Ola was founded in January 2011 by two Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay alumni, Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati. Aggarwal is the company’s chief executive officer and Bhati its chief technology officer.

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