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InMobi facing attrition at senior, mid-levels

Source | The Times Of India : By Anirban Sen & Aditi Shrivastava

BENGALURU: Online advertising startup InMobi , one of India’s early ‘unicorns,’ is struggling to retain senior executives amid questions about whether new strategic initiatives are working as well as worries about the future of the company.

Over the past six months, at least a dozen mid- and senior-level executives have resigned, and InMobi is not gaining market share in a business dominated by tech’s big daddies Google and Facebook , according to four people aware of developments at the Bengaluru-based company.

Apart from finance chief Manish Dugar, who left last month to join Practo , recent exits at the company include Naresh Agarwal, who till January served as vice president of engineering, big data and audience platform; Khushboo Gupta, who heads strategy and operations of the company’s app download business and is currently serving her notice period; and Ravikiran Vadapally who served as VP of finance and resigned in February.

“It’s not just people at the top who have resigned. The more troubling part for InMobi is that mid-level executives across teams, the employees who could actually bring in a turnaround, have quit the company. What never happened before is happening now and good talent is leaving the company across the board,” said one of the sources mentioned above.
InMobi, which was founded by Naveen Tewari in 2007 and was the first startup in which Japan’s SoftBank invested, now has some 1,500 employees compared to twice that number at its peak. The Japanese conglomerate, which has since backedSnapdeal and Ola, poured $200 million into InMobi in 2011 but wrote down most of that amount in 2014.

Other than the recent exits, several key executives have resigned from InMobi in about the past year. M&A head Nimish Joshi went to Ola ; InMobi lost Khushboo Maheshwari, who headed commerce; and Debleena Das, who headed talent acquisition, joined venture capital firm Matrix Partners.

In a statement attributed to Arun Pattabhiraman, the global head of marketing, the company said “every engine at InMobi is focused on ensuring that (it) turns profitable within the next 60-90 days. As part of this exercise, InMobi has taken several steps towards driving cost efficiencies such as pausing moonshot projects and restructuring teams to ensure investments are aligned with the right teams, business verticals and regions.”

The exits also come during a time when InMobi is struggling to raise funds and chart out a sustainable business model that can adapt to the massive changes that are taking place in the online and mobile advertising space, according to both current and former executives at the company. According to these executives, InMobi, which was estimated to be valued at $1 billion, now generates between around $300 million in annual revenue. InMobi has not registered profits since its founding in 2007, say these executives.

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