Corporate Governance Crisis at Startups: The Zilingo Story
| Case Code: BECG187
Case Length: 18 Pages
Pub Date: 2023
Teaching Note: Available
| Price: Rs.300
Organization: Zilingo Pte Ltd
Themes: Corporate Governance, Business Ethics,Organizational Crisis,Leadership & Values
Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts
The case discusses how Zilingo Pte Ltd (Zilingo), a Singapore-based B2B fashion tech platform, ended up in liquidation after a protracted crisis due to issues that led to corporate governance failure. Founded in 2016 by Ankiti Bose (Bose) and Dhruv Kapoor, Zilingo was an online fashion and beauty startup company that empowered apparel supply chain players to produce, source, and trade efficiently through its technology platform. It was one of Southeast Asia’s vaunted startups, on course to revolutionize the fashion supply chain, and Bose was celebrated as one of the tech startup’s most promising female founders. Valued at around US$ 1 billion in 2019, it was flaunted as the rising star in the fashion startup scene with operations in eight countries until a whistle-blower complained about financial irregularities in early 2022. Following this, the company’s board ordered a probe. Bose was suspended immediately and later expelled in May 2022 due to several financial irregularities found during the probe. However, she claimed her dismissal from Zilingo was a ‘witch hunt’ and accused the company of sexual harassment.
The case explores the main issues Zilingo faced during the months-long crisis, shocking Asia’s startup ecosystem. This included – neglecting corporate governance processes, high cash burn, financial discrepancies, a souring relationship with Sequoia Capital (primary investor of Zilingo), mismanagement, and unchecked expansion. The liquidation of the much-hyped fashion startup brings to the fore corporate governance issues at startups and a deep-rooted disregard for corporate governance from founders and a convenient lack of oversight from boards, as start-ups get caught up in the rat race of growth over profits and investors are driven by fear of missing out.
The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:
- Understand the fundamental concepts of an organizational crisis and its causes
- Analyze the corporate governance issues at startups
- Evaluate the need for corporate governance guidelines in the startup ecosystem
- Examine the implications of the corporate governance failure at startups.
- Elucidate the lessons the startups can learn from the failure of Zilingo.
Corporate Governance; Organizational Crisis; Liquidation; Business Ethics; Risk Management; Zilingo; Business Failure; Leadership
Buy this case study (Please select any one of the payment options)
|PayPal (7 USD)