Another day, another blog and yet another startup in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. The startup industry already came under a lot of fire earlier this year, bringing to light that while the industry may have been growing rapidly, it might not be mature yet. Yesterday, an anonymous blog post appeared on Tumblr, reportedly co-authored by four employees of food-tech giant, Swiggy.
Titled “Swiggy, a House of Cards,” the anonymous blog post makes a long list of claims about the company’s apparent business malpractices. Out of the four writers, two are reportedly ex-employees of the company, while the others are about to quit.
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Claiming to speak on behalf of hundreds of Swiggy employees, the anonymous bloggers write that the company has been committing business malpractice in various ways, including cheating its restaurant partners, deleting genuine reviews and even lying to investors about order volumes.
While the blog has no ascertained credibility yet, here’s what the anonymous bloggers are accusing Swiggy of.
1. Defrauding customers: The company apparently lies about its market share to restaurants to get them on board, and has also been violating contractual obligations with its existing partners by increasing commissions. The blog reads, “…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.”
2. The Bowl Company: In addition to an increase in commission, Swiggy launched its own private label kitchen, The Bowl Company. The bloggers claim that this directly hits the restaurants in that area as it is the top search result at the moment. The authors write, “…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.”
“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.”
3. Manipulated reviews: The blog mentions that the company not only plants paid reviews on the app stores, it also hides genuine customer reviews on social media. “Instead of offering customers redressal, we hide behind TnCs and clauses to protect ourselves,” alleges the post.
4. Manipulated business data for investors: The company allegedly lied to its investors about its order volumes, displaying linear growth over the months and hiding dips experienced. “At the ground, we know how much money we are losing. But all of us are kept in the dark,” they claim.
5. Lies to media and employees: Swiggy allegedly made false promises of equity and bonuses to its employees and the existing HR team is abysmal. “They also keep changing the policies subtly to avoid paying variable salaries to the employees,” explains the blog. Additionally, the blog also claims that all food trends touted by Swiggy are fake, and the management has lied about its order volumes to the media as well. “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,” laments the author.
The blog ends with the authors claiming that the company 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,” it reads.
In a statement, Swiggy denied all allegations and said that the blog is targeted at maligning its reputation. “The article carries inaccurate facts regarding business and order numbers. It not only references employee departures from a year and a half back, but also presents details on our partners out of context and with mischievous intent. Swiggy has grown over the last few years on the back of strong support from our restaurant partners, employees, delivery executives, consumers and investors,” it said.
UPDATE: Post the publication of this story, Swiggy CEO Sriharsha Majety put up a post on the company’s official blog with responses to every allegation made by the anonymous blog. In a detailed write up, Majety addressed each of the accusations along with screenshots and data to back up his points, offering a rebuttal to all the anonymous allegations. While the accusatory blog claimed to have been written by ex-employees, Majety's post indicated that the company has an inkling of who the writer(s) could be. “We’ve built Swiggy with a vision to change the way India eats. We truly believe in our vision and work every day to make this come to life. We’re definitely aligned to this mission as a management and leadership team, no doubt! We treat our employees, partners and delivery personnel with the utmost respect, honesty and integrity – aligned to our core values,” he writes.
You can read the full post here.