As some of you reading this may be aware, we’ve had a few hours of anxiety and confusion starting this morning. An anonymous blog piece that was aimed at maligning our reputation was quickly gaining attention on social media. This is our attempt to share real facts and to let readers understand the true picture with complete transparency.
At Swiggy, we pride ourselves on integrity, honesty and excellence. In the spirit of transparency, here’s our response to the post that has been put up ostensibly by ‘former employees’ (we have very good reasons to believe otherwise and have explained towards the end of the post) – one that is falsified with completely incorrect data and details. Lines in italic are the external post made by the anonymous blog, and our response to each of those points follow immediately below.
We’ll start off with the supposed order numbers themselves.
Here is our growth in orders per day terms, every month until January 2017. The numbers have been verified by external, neutral auditors (a part of the big four) as a part of our standard due diligence that is done before every fund raise.
Compare the graph above with the purported numbers in the excel in the post where the post suggests that the January 2017 numbers are lower than the December 2016 numbers.
As you can see – we’ve grown every month, including January 2017 (and every subsequent month since).
In fact, if you look at the post put up by the anonymous blog post and our investor deck, there is a mismatch in the numbers within the excel post itself!
Check out the November 2016 orders as per the investor deck: at 63804 per day and compare that with the excel sheet at 78010 per day. If the 78010 orders per day was right, why would the investor deck report lower numbers? The excel sheet screenshot is a complete fabrication as is a lot more in the post.
Here is also a comparison of our December 2016 and January 2017 order numbers as taken from our internal Qlikview dashboards – a screenshot for reference.
And finally, we are proud of our growth trajectory. We are very much at the 4 million orders per month run rate. Here is the order average from last week:
Now, here’s our point by point response to the post.
“Dishonesty – we cheat restaurant owners
In the sales team, one of our core jobs is to sign up restaurants for the Swiggy platform. This largely includes signing contracts that we know we are going to go back and renegotiate every few months. That is highly stressful, it eats into our conscience, and takes away a little piece of us every time we are made to do this. Most of these restaurant owners are small businessmen and they can’t see how they are being taken for a ride. And unfortunately, if we are to retain our jobs, we can’t tell them either.”
We’ve partnered with restaurants from the start of our journey. Since then, they have grown tremendously and so have we. It’s always been a mutually beneficial growth for them and us. Commercial charges/commission charges with restaurants are a part and parcel of the business. It is mutually agreed upon and there is effort put in by both sides to move things ahead. There is no cheating, no deceit. We have fuelled the growth of many restaurants by exposing them to a large base of consumers on our platform – owing to which many restaurants have grown because of us. We take pride in this.
“We are made to lie about our market share, as well as order volumes to restaurant owners. The worst part is that instead of helping these restaurants grow their business, we are trained to arm-twist them to increase our commissions every couple of months. Some restaurants are paying us more than their net margins because Swiggy in some areas in Hyderabad and Bangalore has been able to become a significant portion of their revenues.”
We do not lie about our market share or order numbers, there has never been a need to. We are the clear market leaders. We communicate the same to restaurants and potential partners to show them the benefits of partnering with us. Nobody will stay on the platform if they don’t see value in this partnership.
“At first it was 5%, then 10% and now nearly 25%. The management wants us to take this to an average of 30% in the future. While we all know that we are building a business, none of us thought it would be at the expense of the livelihood and dreams of others by arm twisting them to pay us for their mistake. What mistake? By trusting Swiggy in the first place.”
As mentioned above, the commissions we charge are a function of the value we generate for the restaurant. The reason we started low, is because we wanted to first convince the restaurant partners about the amount of value we bring to the table before requesting for higher numbers. Over time, (since we’ve started) the value delivered to the partners has been clearly established lending to higher commissions. Also to clarify – Our revenue per order (the 30% that is being talked about) is a blend of 3 parts, the commission we get from the restaurants, delivery fee charged from the consumers and discretionary advertising revenues.
“My sales head had shown us our investor presentation. The numbers here are a proof of what Swiggy is doing to small business owners — our mom and pop restaurant owners.”
“As you can see, we have been rapidly increasing commissions and violating contractual obligations and promises with our ‘so-called’ partners.”
All our commercial agreements are time bound (usually 6 months) – post which, if the restaurants see value and if there is a commission number that both parties mutually agree upon, there is an agreement signed. There is absolutely no violation of contractual obligations.
“And here’s what the management is planning to do in a few years.”
Our intention is to hit our revenue targets while managing a vibrant and largely engaged marketplace. We also understand that this can only happen when we drive commensurate value for all the stakeholders involved, hence we can confirm that the average 30% chargeable to restaurants is absolutely untrue. We’re seeing exciting tractions with our promoted products. These allow restaurants to boost their business disproportionately – at their own will and discretion. We have and will never burden our restaurant partners to levels where they find working with Swiggy untenable.
“You know what’s worse? Instead of growing our restaurant partner’s businesses, we recently took the best business zone in Bangalore and started intentionally routing all the users to order from Bowl Company — our own private label kitchen. The Bowl Company is the top search result in all of Koramangala now. This just directly hits at the heart of restaurants we “partnered” with to grow our business in the first place.”
“This is the slide on the Bowl company from the Swiggy fundraise slides.”
“On top of this, the sales team is asked to tell our restaurant ‘partners’ that Bowl Company doesn’t compete with you. We have never lied so blatantly in my life. We don’t think we will ever be able to now become the people our parents wanted us to be. Ones with high moral grounds, and unquestionable values.”
Swiggy’s mission is to be the hunger saviour that urban Indians rely on at all times. We want to provide solutions for gaps that exist today.
These gaps include poor supply of restaurants in some areas of the city, or use-cases or issues that aren’t seeing active solutions in the near future from any of our partners. Our intention is to boost the number of times a consumer can use Swiggy over the long term, hence we are always maniacally focussed about market creation a lot more than margin creation which seems to be the narrative here. If we introduce brands that don’t boost repeats but just order numbers, we don’t believe there’s a case for that brand to exist and come back to the drawing board. We believe everything starts with the consumer and as long as we don’t solve a consumer problem – we don’t embark on any of these initiatives with a cannibalization approach. We do not intend to create properties that compete with existing restaurants. We will only solve long-term gaps and we will always continue growing the restaurants’ businesses very strongly as we’ve demonstrated over the last few quarters.
In fact, we are also currently fixing the geographic cuisine gaps by closely working with our restaurant partners by helping them setup kitchens. The first one which will house 3 brands is coming up soon in Marathahalli, Bangalore and we look forward to learning a lot from that experiment too. Solving for assortment in hyperlocal commerce is a very tough problem and Swiggy will be driving innovation here for benefit of both restaurants as well as customers.
“We cheat our users
Did you know that most of the good reviews for Swiggy on the app stores are planted and paid for? Also, on social media, genuine reviews (which are usually bad) get immediately removed and buried since they are mostly negative. Instead of working on customer support, we hide customer reviews on social media. Instead of offering customers redressal, we hide behind TnCs and clauses to protect ourselves.”
We do not remove bad reviews on social media (we are not sure if this is even possible on Twitter), do go through our Twitter timelines and you will find that we always respond and try to resolve issues rather than bury them. All reviews on the app (both good and bad) are from consumers, and we do not partake in placing or planting fake reviews. Negative reviews are acted upon, not removed. App store reviews cannot even be removed! You will find negative reviews as you search for them – they are definitely not hidden or removed. We do have our share of failures in service delivery, but we’re always pushing ourselves to do better by the consumer every passing day.
“We lie to our investors.
We know for a fact that our management has lied to investors about our order volumes during the latest fundraise. Our January 2017 order volumes were less than December 2016 volumes. Yes, we had a decline of order volumes in January. But we have seen the investor presentations, and they have shaved off the December numbers in the slides in order to show a linear growth curve across all months of our existence.”
“And this is what we sent to investors –
“As you can see, the dip in January is not visible in the investor slides. As much as we know about how the investor world works, any investor would not have invested in a startup which had a decline in order volumes at such a young stage. That aside, lying about order volumes to potential investors highlights our true culture — in which the management will do anything and everything to move ahead in life.
We also understand that raising money is important for growing Swiggy. If there wasn’t enough money our order volumes would start declining. There has to be a constant inflow of marketing money into the business for the order volumes to even stay flat. But that does not mean that we will all sell our souls and resort to dishonest means to raise money?
The unit economics are bad. The unit economics presented to investors and the team do not contain all the costs that should (according to us) be a part of the story. At the ground, we know how much money we are losing. But all of us are kept in the dark.”
Here is our growth in orders per day, every month over the year. The actual numbers have been verified by external, neutral auditors. January 2017 has grown over December 2016, as has every day subsequently. We’re proud of our success.
“We lie to our employees
A lot of us were made false promises about equity and bonuses that were never paid. They just need bots who are available 24/7 and if you are not, you will be put on a PIP in some pretext or the other and be out of the door before you know it.
At any given point in time, 10–15% people are always on PIPs and showed the door. There’s so much churn, and so much dissatisfaction. The job market is bad, and the management is making the most of it. All the hiring in the last year is done just to cover up the numbers for the press.
The HR team here is the worst. I have friends who have quit or were fired and after repeated follow-ups, were not paid their final settlements or bonuses. They also keep changing the policies subtly to avoid paying variable salaries to the employees.
The company and its people policies are a shit show.”
No false promises are made to any of our employees. Bonuses are paid fairly and transparently, as is the case in any organization with core values and processes intact. We have hired to support the strong growth we’ve seen. Our compensation structure is transparent, fair and consistent. We pride ourselves on building a high performance organization but by hiring very meticulously, we’ve been able to keep the need for PIPs at a fraction of the number mentioned by the author.
“Our senior management’s ego is out of control
The senior management is always plotting against each other. We are always on the run, but none of our questions are ever answered. We have lost a lot of good people because of this. Everyone is leaving the company. All the good engineers, head of engineering, VP product, head of recruitment, many good managers and team leads have already left. I have also heard that our VP, Gunjan has been recently fired quite unceremoniously. I probably know why he is getting fired — maybe because he disagrees with the management on a lot of things.
The middle management on the other end is running around, taking commands and trying to protect and grow themselves within the company. They are weak and not empowered and no one cares for their opinion. The support functions are a joke. All of us employees are nothing but dispensable resources.
Feedback is never welcome here. Office politics is the only way to grow. It’s a pity that with all the money in the bank the company culture is in a major flux.
I have friends who were in the tech team and have heard stories of the CTO calling the team in the middle of the night and yelling at them because some feature has not gone into production. He enjoys playing petty politics and is always creating problems for others. His favorites can do what they want, come when they want to, go when they want to, but the hard working types are mistreated, ignored and eventually fired. The favorites are usually the drug toting types who are more cool than smart.
Not just the CTO, the overall management team is full of megalomaniacs — just praise them and satisfy their egos and you can stay in their good books, ask a logical question and await their wrath unfold upon you.”
The management team at Swiggy is committed only to Swiggy’s success. We pride ourselves in the quality and integrity of our people across the organization, with the leadership team being no different. The examples mentioned are significantly dated. Interestingly our Head of Recruitment and VP Product are a year old and very much still in the system. Some of the people who left referenced above, did leave naturally, over a year and a half back! Our VP of Sales, Gunjan did leave the organization recently on great terms to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions. We’re sure he’ll be most happy to confirm this.
We are a completely meritocratic organization and care a great deal about employee feedback. We conduct pulse surveys, managerial effectiveness surveys and open houses to encourage feedback and act on it, across all functions of the organization.
“I think even cattle doesn’t deserve this treatment. We keep changing our delivery boy incentive structures every now and then. A lot of these delivery boys moved to the city with the promise of a job, and now their monthly payouts are dwindling. There are no background checks. They have no health insurance. They have a dangerous job, and nobody takes accountability for them. There are unions brewing inside Swiggy’s delivery fleet and there’s a lot of trouble coming — all for genuine reasons. If someone meets an accident, Swiggy doesn’t take any liability for it. Why? Because they are freelancers.”
Swiggy has been known for its quick and reliable delivery. With over 12000 active restaurant partners across eight locations, this has been made possible through our intense focus on building and sustaining our delivery services – the largest in India, and an indispensable part of our business. Providing for a high earning capability, the right training and development (personality, behavioural and communication skills), due rewards and recognition, and financial assistance is key to our engagement with our delivery executives. We also understand that our delivery executives are our brand’s face to the consumers and we take great care in selecting them. Every Swiggy Delivery Executive undergoes a background verification before they are on-boarded. All delivery executives are provided with medical insurance for the family and a personal accident insurance coverage, which is borne by the company.
“We lie to the media
All the posts you see about food trends found on Swiggy are fake. There was no study conducted on how many people order chocolate based desserts on Swiggy. Don’t believe us, ask them for data to support these claims. Well that’s the least of our lies to the press.”
All food trends shared by Swiggy clearly call out that it is based on Swiggy’s order analysis. It also shares the time period taken into consideration. Considering the scale at which we’re doing orders, this gives us substantial inputs on calling out these trends. The article below in the media calls out our order analysis and time frame (scroll to the bottom of the article).
“Just a few days ago our access to the order volume tracking dashboards was revoked for everyone, and the next thing is that we read an article that says we have crossed 4 million orders a month on the front page of ET.”
This is false. Our order tracking dashboard is currently available to any number of employees within the organization. The point about doing about 4 million orders a month is absolutely true – the most recent week of July average over a 120K orders per day. The fact that our success causes others disbelief is completely understandable.
“When we had the access to the dashboards a few days ago, the order volumes were less than 3 million orders a month then how can that change suddenly? That kind of order volume growth is just not possible. We have heard that the order volumes are inflated by recording fake orders in our internal IT systems. We are already the leaders in the market, and we have so much money! The management just lied about these numbers and took away our win. And we had worked very hard for our win. This is absolute disrespect to all the employees who have worked hard to get close to 3 MN orders a month — lying and saying that we are at 4 million is saying that everybody is a choot to have been able to get to 4 MN.”
We take information security very seriously at Swiggy and access control is a regular part of business. We crossed 3 million orders a few months ago. Not only is “that” kind of order growth possible, we’ve made it happen due to hard work and consistent partnership. This is a reflection of the trust our consumers and restaurant partners place in us.
“One can see in the screenshot below (copy pasting it again for reference) that the actual orders volume in June was 2.76 mn”
The fact that these numbers are completely wrong is proof enough.
“Do we really deserve the startup of the year award? I think not.”
“We all came here to be a part of something big, something honest, something of value. But after seeing things only go from bad to worse, we have come to realize that this company is full of lies and deception and we can no longer take it. If you ask me this is just a House of Cards and when the winds change their direction and the tide turns, things will come crashing down for everyone involved. Perhaps Netflix should make their next original series on Swiggy, maybe then you will also see the true face of the Indian Start-up of the year.”
While we won’t comment on whether we deserve the startup of the year award or not – we can say this with confidence, that we’ve shared all our numbers in a transparent and honest manner with the publication that recognized us as the startup of the year. And that’s part of the reason we got selected – because they know our numbers. We are proud of the success we’ve achieved. We’ve absolutely built something of value and with honesty and we stand by that.
“Anyway, why do you think all of this happens at Swiggy?
I think because Swiggy is built to sell. The management team, under influence, has often told our colleagues in various late-night parties that they don’t want to do this forever, and they are building this to make a quick buck. A lot of the senior management knows this and is aligned to this mission. Leading to mistreatment of employees, partners (restaurant owners), and delivery personnel.”
We’ve built Swiggy with a vision to change the way India eats. We are aligned to it as a leadership-management team to make it a reality. We treat our employees, partners and delivery personnel with the utmost respect, honesty and integrity – qualities that reflect our core values.
This is the truth and the truth alone.
There have been edits made to clarify things accurately from our end:
To address the matter on the identity of the “four former employees from Swiggy” who have authored the tell-all tale on the anonymous blog post, we have reason to believe that it is someone outside of Swiggy.
Factual inaccuracies: The excel presented on the anonymous blog post is a complete fabrication of sorts as we’ve established in the post. The business metrics can be accessed on a dashboard that’s been made available internally to all our sales and business heads. So going by the logic that the anonymous blog post has been made by “former/soon to be former” employees who claim to set the record straight – the excel should contain the correct numbers from the dashboard, but it does not.