ZestMoney founders step down following failed acquisition by PhonePe
The co-founders of Indian buy now, pay later (BNPL) start-up ZestMoney have stepped down from their roles just weeks after payments giant PhonePe called off a proposed acquisition of the firm.
CEO Lizzie Chapman, CTO Ashish Anantharaman, and Priya Sharma, who served as both CFO and COO, are all set to leave the company.
“Over the last few weeks, we have done a lot of thinking about the best path forward for ourselves given where the company is at,” Chapman writes in a LinkedIn post.
“And whilst it has been very hard for us to arrive at this conclusion, we have decided that we will step back from our day-to-day operating roles with ZestMoney,” says Chapman, adding that all three co-founders will continue to be “significant” shareholders in the company.
A new leadership team has been appointed in their stead, with the company’s vice president of finance and financial operations Mohit Chhajer, chief banking officer Mandar Satpute, and SVP of growth Abhishek Sharma set to take the reins.
“They have all been with us on the journey for a long time, having helped build and scale the company to be the largest digital lending franchise in the country,” Chapman adds.
Founded in 2015, ZestMoney offers BNPL services to Indian consumers, allowing them to make purchases and repay in three or more installments.
In November last year, Walmart-backed fintech giant PhonePe held talks with ZestMoney to acquire the latter for around $200 million to $300 million.
However, PhonePe called off the proposed acquisition in April this year, with The Economic Times reporting that the firm decided to walk away from the deal after carrying out its due diligence checks, with sources suggesting concerns over ZestMoney’s business model and debt liability.
Other reasons cited by sources include the tough market environment, disagreement over valuation, and India’s increasing scrutiny of digital lending companies.
The BNPL fintech had last raised funds at a valuation of $450 million, but has reportedly been finding it difficult to raise new capital.