While Softbank might have written off $475 million in the combined value of its shareholding in Ola and Snapdeal, and Ola’s valuation might have been slashed by 40 percent to $3 billion, the cab aggregator continues to aggressively hire talent for key roles.
The Bengaluru-based cab aggregation platform on Thursday announced the appointment of Badri Ragahvan, a data scientist with over 20 years of extensive domain experience, as Ola’s Chief Data Scientist.
Badri will lead a data science team and engineers to scale Ola’s data-science infrastructure as well as work on solving the varied mobility needs of the country. The focus will be on training in AI, decision analysis, machine learning and pattern recognition.
A press note released by the company also stated that the data science team will continue to work along with various departments and business units to ensure business efficiencies in driver behaviour, performance management, location intelligence, demand and supply prediction.
Ola claims to have onboarded over five lakh driver partners and is operational across 100 cities in the country. The company also owns over 60 percent of the market share. The team aims to further scale its operations.
Ankit Bhati, CTO and Co-founder of Ola, stated that Ola is moving on a larger scale towards building technology based on insights into the Indian mindset. In a press statement by the company he said:
“Big Data is a must. With a rich vein of expertise in data science and machine learning, Badri fits perfectly into Ola’s vision of building ground-up technology solution based on deep understanding of our customers, and build world-class innovative solutions.”
Badri added that Ola Share is a classic example of leveraging Big Data to improve matching rates and minimise deviations. “With an aim to build more such solutions and add value on existing ones, I am looking forward to building a world class team, as we advance on our mission of building mobility for a billion Indians.” Badri said in a statement released by the company.
Before Ola, Badri was the founding CTO of FirstFuel Software, an energy and utilities analytics firm based out of Boston.
The year, however, hasn’t been great for Ola, which has had to battle driver protests and government regulations against Ola Share (and Uber Pool). The US-based investment firm Vanguard World Fund has marked down ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd – Ola’s parent firm – by over 40 percent. According to their regulatory filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Ola's current valuation stands at $3 billion. During its peak Ola had raised $500 million at a valuation of $5 billion.
The filing stated that Ola’s shares had dropped from $311.27 per share in the previous quarter to $182.7 apiece. Vanguard now holds 166,185 shares of Ola valued at over $30.37 million. Media reports on Ola looking to raise $300 million have been doing the rounds since late last year. Besides, there have been reports of Ola having raised some funding from Softbank as well as about the deal not coming through.