Dubai: The founders of e-commerce start-up Wadi are set to step down from their positions, following a $30 million investment from retail giant Majid Al Futtaim.
They both say that their decision is not linked to the increasing involvement of Majid Al Futtaim (MAF).
Ankit Wadhwa, co-founder of Wadi, told Gulf News that his decision to step down as managing director in the coming months was a personal one, and he was looking forward to moving from an executive role in to an oversight position.
He denied speculation that he was set to leave the company altogether, and said it was “absolutely false” that anyone had been fired since the investment. “This is not related to the MAF investment — absolutely not.”
On October 24, Majid Al Futtaim announced an investment in Wadi, a hotly-tipped online grocery delivery platform in Saudi Arabia, of $30 million.
As part of the agreement, the statement said, Carrefour will become Wadi’s long-term strategic partner for supplying food and non-food groceries.
This partnership will provide customers access to over 12,000 products, delivered within a two hour window.
“MAF has put us in a strong position to succeed. We’re in a place where the management has given us room to grow,” Wadhwa said.
However, he stressed that the investment did not amount to an acquisition, and he did not believe the conglomerate was trying to install new management at the start-up.
“This is not a MAF acquisition,” he said, adding that the Middle East Investment Group (MEIG), a joint venture between Germany’s Rocket Internet and South Africa’s MTN Group remained Wadi’s largest investor. “We don’t think anyone is trying to bring in their management or anything like that. That’s not the right direction,” Wadhwa added.
Instead, Majid Al Futtaim was coming in as a strategic investor, he said. “They’re not taking over the company. That’s not the arrangement, and never has been.”
According to the co-founder, Majid Al Futtaim will not make any decisions about Wadi’s future exclusively.
Majid Al Futtaim declined to comment.
In the coming months, Wadi’s board will begin searching for Wadhwa’s replacement, he said.
The outgoing managing director hinted at his intention to work with other companies following the end of his tenure. “I can now look at managing multiple companies, not just one,” Wadhwa said.
In February 2016, the company raised $67 million in its first round of funding, led by Al Tayyar Travel Group.
At the time, it operated as a straight e-commerce play, selling fashion and electronics. It has since pivoted to a grocery delivery service, and has quickly grown to become the largest company of its type in Saudi Arabia.
Fellow co-founder Kanwal Sarfaz, according to Wadhwa, is also said to be departing for personal reasons. Sarfaz will leave the company entirely, unlike Wadhwa who will stay on in an advisory capacity.
“Kanwal has been looking to take a break for some time. I think she’s going to be taking some time off for sure, and then deciding her course,” said Wadhwa.
Sarfaz could not immediately be reached for comment.