TinyOwl, the Mumbai-based food delivery start-up, found itself in a crisis after its co-founders were reportedly held hostage by its laid-off employees for hours. Four co-founders of the firm were held hostage for about 24-36 hours by their irate employees in their Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai offices.
Employees resorted to this extreme measure after the company allegedly refused to pay salaries after sacking them in September.
According to a top management source, Gaurav Choudhary was taken hostage for more than 36 hours in Pune while another co-founder Saurabh Goyal was taken hostage in Delhi for a day. Tanuj Khandelwal was taken hostage in Hyderabad and Shikhar Paliwal in Chennai.
“We have accounts to prove that all the salaries have been paid. Until we get a written confirmation from them that no physical harm will be caused to any of us, we are not going to clear the dues,” a company source added.
He further said that Gaurav and Saurabh were released on Wednesday evening and were taken for counselling.
Employees were enraged after the company announced on Wednesday that it would be scaling back operations nationally and continue to operate in six cities.
The co-founders are understood to have been allowed to go following negotiations. The layoffs, at the firm, came five days after it managed to raise R50 crore from existing investors Matrix Partners and Sequoia capital. In an official statement, the company cited increasing efficiency and productivity as a reason for scaling back operations.
According toTinyOwl employees, the company shut shop in Pune and fired all 30 staff. Operations in Bengaluru and Mumbai have been restricted as well, but will continue.
A TinyOwl source denied that the company was firing people. “We are not firing people. We are initiating a separation and scaling back of resources. Since we are automating the process and it does not require human intervention, we do not have roles for these skill-sets to replace them elsewhere. People have the option to resign and get paid for entire two months/one month,” said a company source.