Indian ride-hailing platform Ola has announced the appointment of a new Managing Director for Australia. Simon Smith will head up the firm’s burgeoning Australian business, having held previous positions as CEO of eBay Australia and Non-Executive Director at Sportsbet.
Ola launched in Australia in January this year, its first venture outside of India. It now has over 30,000 driver partners in the country, and operates in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The Indian company was originally founded in 2011 by current CEO Bhavish Aggarwal and CTO Ankit Bhati. Throughout India and now Australia, the company now operates across 100 cities with over a million driver partners across cars, auto-rickshaws and taxis. Ola says it is “driven by a hyperlocal approach” and “committed to its mission of building mobility for a billion people”.
Smith will be responsible for developing the Ola leadership team and building on the company’s presence in Australia through strategy, marketing, product development and customer service, as well as engagement with driver-partners and other stakeholders.
Smith commented: “I relish building organisations from the ground up and am delighted to join the ranks at Ola. It’s rare to find a brand like Ola that has built its success on a community-first approach, and that is committed to giving driver-partners a better deal with industry-leading commissions.”
He later added: “I was interested in leading a business that is community oriented, growing quickly, has technology at the heart and a ‘data for good’ approach where data is used to solve problems at the core of society. Ola provides all of those in spades.”
The development comes at a time when Asian businesses are looking to the growing ride-hailing market in Australia. For example, Chinese company Didi Chuxing launched in Australia on 25th June, beginning its Australian expansion in Melbourne. This is likely to create more competition for local firms as well as Ola, and points to a business model that is here to stay throughout Asia Pacific.
Aggarwal has expressed his excitement at the new appointment. “Simon is a very entrepreneurial and strategic leader who has demonstrated strong business and people leadership in his career. He will lead Ola’s mission to build the future of mobility in Australia and create impact for the millions of customers and tens of thousands of driver partners.”