In a move that Zomato’s co-founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal stated as ‘empowerment for the right person”, the company’s 38-year-old Chief Operating Officer (COO), Gaurav Gupta was given the title of co-founder. The announcement, which comes as a surprise to many, was made by the company’s CEO Goyal in an internal mail on the 1st of March. He states,
This is not a ‘reward’- this is empowerment, for the right person, to seamlessly be able to level-up to a role which he has shown the potential for.” He further mentioned that along with the new title of co-founder, Gupta’s role and title as the COO would still be maintained.
Zomato confirmed the development but declined to share further details.
Before coming to Zomato, Gaurav worked as a consultant at A.T. Kearney for a decade. [as per Gaurav Gupta's Linkedin Profile] Apparently, this is not the first time he has been promoted since he joined the online food delivery and restaurant-discovery company in 2015. In January 2018, at a time when Zomato was seeing key shuffle in top management roles, he was elevated from his earlier role of global head for advertising sales to the COO. As the COO, he was given charge of critical operations including content and new initiatives such as their cloud kitchen module, Zomato Infrastructure Services along with sourcing and reviews on the platform. The newly appointed co-founder was credited by the CEO Goyal in his internal mail with success of businesses such as subscription service Zomato Gold, Hyperpure (where it supplies fruits, vegetables and meat to restaurants), events unit Zomaland and also upcoming payments business under Zomato Pay.
The announcement comes about a year after Pankaj Chaddah, who co-founded Zomato with Goyal in 2008, hung his boots at the food technology firm in March 2018. It is quite rare, according to those tracking the ecosystem, in a market like India where founders typically have not given way to operators and professional CEO’s, with exceptions being Kalyan Krishnamurthy at Flipkart who replaced Binny Bansal as CEO in January 2017 and Pranay Jivrajka, an early employee at Ola who was given the title of a founding member and now heads Foodpanda as its CEO.
In his own words, Revant Bhate, partner at venture firm Kstart, who was earlier entrepreneur in residence in Faasos, says, “This is a good sign, which shows the startup ecosystem is maturing and that execution is key. To build value, you will need a great team, and it’s a good sign that founders are willing to share credit and value with others who are contributing”.
Zomato is backed by investors like Chinese payment giants Ant Financial (payment affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba), venture capital firm Sequoia and Naukri-owner Info Edge with a valuation of over $2 billion. But with competition from companies like Uber Eats, Swiggy, etc and a never ending demand for better service, only time will tell how this move will affect in helping Zomato stay ahead of its competitors.