SINGAPORE — Communications/PR head Naushaba Salahuddin has quit Zilingo, three weeks after she was suspended for questioning her employer’s media statements in the wake of CEO Ankiti Bose’s suspension for financial irregularities at the fashion e-commerce platform.
Salahuddin’s resignation, announced on LinkedIn, comes days after Bose was fired from her position, amid an investigation into business transactions at the fashion ecommerce platform.
In her post, Salahuddin claims that “several individuals now in control of the company have possibly made misleading and damaging statements.” She also says that “several other individuals may be coming under threat and duress for standing by the truth.”
“I have faith that the truth will still prevail,” adds Salahuddin. “As I possibly risk facing more threats and discredit for expressing dissent and for this post, I can walk away knowing that I gave this company my all. It is a very peculiar situation as far as startup sagas go and there is so much more than what meets the eye right now.”
Salahuddin (pictured), who also led Zilingo’s prevention of sexual harassment committee, joined the company in November 2018. Her suspension from her work email and Zilingo’s PR email came after she questioned the board regarding statements the company had made to the media via Mutant PR, which was brought in last month to provide Zilingo with PR support.
PRovoke Media has also learned that Zilingo has hired India’s AvianWE for communications support, in addition to its existing relationship with Mutant in Singapore. Zilingo backer Sequoia Capital, meanwhile, is being supported by India’s biggest PR firm, Adfactors PR.
Bose, who has led the company since 2015, was initially suspended when an effort to raise new funding led to questions about the company’s accounting. After being fired last week, she told Reuters she was “wrongfully dismissed”, and has levelled charges of harassment and abuse at the company.
Prior to joining Zilingo in 2018, Salahuddin was head of PR and communications at South Asian e-commerce platform Daraz, which has since been acquired by Alibaba Group. She was previously a national TV correspondent in Bangladesh for five years.
Zilingo confirmed that Salahuddin had resigned.
The leadership crisis at one of Singapore’s most celebrated startups comes after a whistleblower complaint alleged financial wrongdoing under Bose’s leadership. Zilingo is valued at more than US$800m, and backed by Sequoia Capital India and Southeast Asia, Temasek, German investment firm Burda, and Belgian family office Sofina, among others.
Earlier this month, meanwhile, Boomlive raised suspicions that Sequoia was the target of a paid Twitter campaign using the hashtags #SexistSequoia and #SequoiaLeakedTapes — focusing more attention on the Zilingo situation.