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Exclusive: Ola’s head of luxury cab business quits

Abhimanyu Rawal

Abhimanyu Rawal

It turns out that Ola’s head of new initiatives Sundeep Sahni’s wasn’t the only senior-level exit from the company last week. Abhimanyu Rawal, head of Ola’s luxury cab category, also left the taxi aggregator last week and joined a US retail firm, he told TechCircle.

TechCircle first reported about the exit of Sahni, former MD and cofounder of Rocket Internet-incubated ecommerce firm Lazada Indonesia who was heading a host of verticals, such as Ola Shuttle, Ola Auto, Ola e-rikshaw and Ola Kali-Peeli.

Rawal, as head of category Ola Lux, was involved in launching and expanding the segment for the company. Ola launched Lux, which allows customers to book luxury sedans such as Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Audi, BMW and Toyota Fortuner, in May last year, charging just Rs 19 per kilometre for a Jaguar ride. The head of the category has quit within seven months of the launch. An Ola spokesperson confirmed Rawal’s exit.

Rawal, who has an MBA from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology besides a dual degree from IIT Bombay, began his career with Morgan Stanley. Prior to joining Ola, he was with Housing.com. Rawal joined Ola as head of Ola Prime in Mumbai in September 2015, and moved to the role of head of Ola Lux in May.

India’s leading consumer internet firm Ola, backed by Japanese investor SoftBank, recently partnered with BMW to expand the on-demand luxury car business, as it decided to expand its luxury fleet from 100 to 1000 in a year. Since May last year, Ola has launched Ola Lux in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, and is planning to expand to Hyderabad and Chennai. Bangalore has offered the Ola Lux category maximum growth.

Ola, co-founded and led by Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, is facing intense competition from global leader Uber and is said to be in the middle of a large funding round. Incorporated as ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd, Ola was valued around $5 billion at the time of its last funding round. It had a tough year, as it saw the shutdown of subsidiary unit TaxiforSure, layoff of around 1000 staff and a markdown by its major investor SoftBank.