Tencent’s legal head Brent Irvin joins Ola board
Photo Credit: Manni Das/VCCircle

Brent Irvin, vice president and general counsel at Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd, has joined the board of investee firm and cab-hailing platform Ola as director, a person privy to the development told VCCircle.

Irvin’s formal on-boarding happened sometime last month, the person added.

Email queries sent to Ola seeking confirmation did not elicit an immediate response.

Last month, Ola's parent ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd announced that it had raised $1.1 billion from Tencent, existing backer Japan's SoftBank Group Corp, and some new US-based investors.

Tencent infused the funds into the homegrown taxi-hailing firm via Singapore-based Copper Technology Pte Ltd, an associated entity. In the process, Copper Technology is picking up a 9.75% stake in Ola. This pegs the company's valuation at roughly $4.1 billion.

The $1.1 billion fund-raise was likely part of a larger $2 billion round, which is expected to see the participation of existing investor UC-RNT Fund, among others.

SoftBank, the largest investor in Ola with a 22.5% stake, is represented on the board by its managing director David Thevenon.

An alumnus of Stanford University Law School, Irvin has close to two decades of legal experience in venture capital, cross-border mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate representation. He has been part of Tencent Holdings since 2009, and is based out of its Shenzhen headquarters, shows his LinkedIn profile.

Irvin previously served as a corporate lawyer at US-based law firms like Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and Shearman and Sterling. In an earlier assignment, he handled business development and administrative matters at Beijing-based United Family Healthcare, which runs hospitals and satellite clinics across China.

Tencent has upped its India investments over the past year. Apart from injecting $700 million into Flipkart, it has backed ed-tech startup Byju’s, health-tech venture Practo, and messaging app Hike.

Ola’s top deck has seen a bit of a reshuffle in recent times. In August, it hired former eKart executive Harish Abhichandani as chief financial officer, following the exit of Infosys veteran Rajiv Bansal.

Of late, the company has been raising capital at regular intervals. The frenetic pace of fundraising comes amid reports of SoftBank trying to close a $10-billion investment in its Ola's global rival Uber.

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