askme

The AskMe Group* has moved around 300 of its employees to its partner organisations, the company’s group head for marketing and communication for India and Malaysia Manav Sethi told MediaNama. Sethi added, “There are no layoffs, at the end of every year we take a hard look at the functions, skills and capabilities that we don’t need to keep on our payroll. We’ve done that exercise and moved those skills, capabilities and functions from our payroll to our partners. We had a big copywriting team, creative team, which is all commodity function. So we moved them to our partners whose cost structures are much lower than ours.”

Last week, MediaNama had reached out to company to confirm if it had laid off any employees as cited by this BGR report. The company issued a statement which said, “It’s the beginning of the new fiscal year and we continue to increase our productivity across functions through automation and better processes as in previous years. We continue to hire talent where required.”

A Business Standard report pegged the affected employees at 650, adding that the company was burning $6 million monthly, employee appraisals were delayed and that some were told they’d be moved to other jobs within or outside the company.

AskMe Grocery expansion:
Last week, the AskMe Group said that it had plans to expand its Askme Grocery business from its current 38 cities to 80 cities by this financial year. It claimed to make 20,000 deliveries every day, and plans to grow that to 100,000 daily by year end. The company says that the average ticket size is Rs 1,700- 2,000, accounting for Rs 3.5-4 crore daily. As of now, it employs 1,000 people. In May last year, AskMe acquired BestatLowest, co-founded by Ankit Jain and Amit Nigam in 2013, for $10 million. Earlier this month, AskMe Grocery launched AskMeFresh, a perishable grocery marketplace and AskMeMeds, an online health marketplace. These are expected to go live in 3 months. The company partners with local grocery chains to deliver to its users, without keeping the inventory.

Recent AskMe developments:
– In December 2015, AskmePay launched a new program called AskmeFin which would provide financial services to its partner small and medium enterprises.
– In November last year, AskMe launched a video series on tips and tricks for Home Decor called The Quirk Action. The series was branded by MebelKart in which Askme invested $20 million for a majority stake in August 2015. In September 2015, MebelKart acquired the crowd bargaining platform 53central.

Developments from similar players in the space:
– In March, directory services & ecommerce company JustDial bought back shares worth nearly Rs 165 crore from shareholders. In February, it said that it would add more than 4,000 employees to handle sales for the company over the next 9-10 months.
– In April last year, online classified website Sulekha raised Series C funding worth ~$28 million (Rs 175 crore) from Singapore’s GIC and VC Norwest Venture Partners.

*Disclosure: AskMe is an advertiser with MediaNama