Delivery firm Gopuff emerged as one of the hits of the pandemic shutdowns, fetching a $15 billion valuation thanks to its network of couriers delivering snacks and convenience items like chips, Tylenol and laundry detergent. But in recent months, its 29-year-old founders have faced mounting setbacks.
Last fall, discussions led by the founders about raising up to $1 billion in new funding fizzled after some investors balked at Gopuff’s cash burn, according to two people familiar with the efforts. Since then, they’ve overseen two rounds of layoffs totaling hundreds of workers. Earlier this year, Gopuff instituted a temporary hiring freeze for employees and also shuttered a fledgling pharmacy delivery business, say people familiar with those efforts. And they’ve lost several executives recruited from tech companies like Facebook and Airbnb to modernize their e-commerce software and build a new advertising business.
That upheaval has raised questions among some employees about the leadership abilities of co-CEOs Yakir Gola and Rafael Ilishayev. At an all-hands meeting for the product and engineering teams in early April to address the past month’s layoffs—a meeting from which Gola and Ilishayev were absent—one employee asked whether the founders were still fit to helm the company, given what that employee said was a lack of business experience, according to a recording reviewed by The Information and a person briefed on the matter.
Gopuff’s head of engineering, Rekha Singh, responded with her own thoughts on their experience level. “They may not have it,” she conceded, though she credited the founders for hiring other experienced leaders and gave them a vote of confidence.