Tiger Global’s Lee Fixel resigns from Ola’s board
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

Tiger Global Management partner Lee Fixel has resigned from the board of cab aggregator Ola, where the US-based hedge fund held a minority stake, a person aware of the development told VCCircle.

Fixel likely resigned late last month or earlier this month, the person said. The reasons behind his resignation are not clear, and it is not clear whether Tiger Global has any representative on Ola’s board.

Ola, operated by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, did not respond to queries from VCCircle till the time of filing this article. A spokesperson for Tiger Global declined to comment.

While Tiger Global’s total exposure to Ola hasn’t been made public, VCCircle calculations last year estimated the US firm held a 20.35% stake in the ride-hailing company.

However, this estimate did not take into account Ola’s Series F funding round of $500 million in November 2015 when Tiger Global invested more capital.

It is likely that Tiger Global’s stake may have come down over the last two years due to its non-participation in the follow-on funding rounds. In May, a report by technology news website Factor Daily said that SoftBank, which is the largest shareholder in Ola with a stake of about 40%, was in talks with Tiger Global to buy its stake in the cab-hailing firm for $700 million.

Since 2015, Ola has raised an estimated $1.5 billion from investors including Japanese Internet conglomerate SoftBank, Falcon Edge Capital, Ratan Tata’s UC-RNT fund and Tekne Capital.

In its most recent funding round announced last month, it had raised $1.1 billion (Rs 7,174 crore) from investors led by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd in exchange for a 9.75% stake and said it was in talks to raise another $1 billion.

Earlier this month, VCCircle had reported that Brent Irvin, vice president and general counsel at Tencent, had joined Ola’s board.

Prior to SoftBank and Tencent, Tiger Global, which entered India in 2005, was considered the most prolific investor in the Indian consumer Internet sector till 2015. Flipkart, Ola and Quikr are among its biggest bets in India.

According to an earlier estimate by VCCircle, Tiger Global had invested in at least 45 companies through 103 deals since 2005, ploughing in around $2.5 billion in total.

In 2015 alone, it struck 38 deals, which included fresh bets on startups such as ShopClues, Zostel, Grofers, Delhivery, Saavn, NewsInShorts and Vedantu. It also made follow-on investments in its existing portfolio companies such as Flipkart, Ola, Quikr and Freshdesk.

However, Tiger Global has slowed down its pace in the country. The US-based hedge fund has pruned down its portfolio from 45 to around 30 companies, and is adopting a wait-and-watch mode.

The US firm’s largest Indian bet was in homegrown e-commerce major Flipkart, where it is estimated to have put in around $1 billion. In March, when Flipkart raised $1.4 billion from Microsoft, Tencent and eBay, VCCircle reported that Tiger Global was likely to have made a partial exit with three-fold returns.

Tiger Global’s other exits include Caratlane. Its returns from this exit were almost the same as the amount it had invested into the jewellery e-tailer. In July last year, Tiger Global sold its entire stake in Caratlane to Titan, the Tata Group’s watch and jewellery retailing firm, for $53 million. In rupee terms, the hedge fund made a small gain over a five-year holding period.

Tiger Global is also believed to have lost money on another early bet Babyoye, an online platform for baby products, which was sold to the diversified Mahindra Group in 2015.

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