Zilingo is a technology and commerce platform founded in 2015 by Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor, and has operations spanning Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines, Australia and the United States.
At first glance, the implosion of vaunted fashion startup Zilingo Pte looked jarringly sudden.
When the Singapore tech darling suspended its 30-year-old chief executive officer Ankiti Bose over complaints about alleged financial irregularities, it was March. Within weeks, creditors were recalling loans, more than 100 staff had left, and Bose found herself fired, though she denies any wrongdoing. The company’s survival is now in question.
The Zilingo meltdown has rattled the tech industry in Southeast Asia and beyond. The startup had raised more than $300 million from some of the region’s most prominent investors, including Temasek Holdings Pte and Sequoia Capital India, the regional arm of the Silicon Valley firm that backed Apple Inc. and Google. Bose was a celebrity who crisscrossed the globe to speak at tech gatherings from Hong Kong to California.
About Salary Questions
The zeal for governance may have come too late for Zilingo. About a week after Bose was suspended, a board director and an adviser to another shareholder questioned her about why she was drawing a monthly salary of S$50,000. Her employment contract five years ago stated it as S$8,500 and the adviser had just discovered she'd been making considerably more since 2019, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Bose said the numbers are inaccurate but did not provide her salary information.
Bose said in an interview with Bloomberg News in May that Zilingo has used aggressive methods for recognizing revenue, but that the calculations are standard practice for the industry and that all of its investors were fully aware of them. “These matters are well understood by all investors,” Bose said in the interview.
Zilingo “went through a tough time during Covid,” said Rohit Sipahimalani, Temasek's chief investment officer. “There were clearly some things the board was unaware of, and when there were complaints made, they investigated into it and actions have been taken subsequently.”