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Zilingo—a high-profile fashion technology startup backed by Singaporean state-owned investor Temasek Holdings and Sequoia Capital India—has sidelined its communications director, adding to signs of an internal rift at the company amid an ongoing internal accounting probe.
Naushaba Salahuddin, who heads external communications for the Singapore-based company, has been suspended from using her Zilingo email account as well as the company’s public relations email account on April 27, according to an email seen by Forbes Asia. Salahuddin—who was also said to have been barred from using Zilingo’s internal communications platform—was informed by the board that her emails to various third parties were detrimental to the best interests of the company, the message shows. Zilingo did not respond to a request for comment.
The board’s latest action comes as Zilingo is expected this week to wrap up the ongoing internal accounting probe. A $200 million fundraising round managed by Goldman Sachs in February had sparked questions among investors as to how the startup books revenue from its clients. Zilingo said its major investors had authorized the board to suspend cofounder Ankiti Bose from her duties as chief executive officer pending the outcome of the investigation. “Any question of a change in management is speculative and premature at this stage,” the company’s statement said on April 20.
Temasek—one of Zilingo’s biggest shareholders—had earlier expressed support for the investigation. “We expect our portfolio companies to abide by sound corporate governance and codes of conduct and ethics,” Temasek said in April. “We are therefore supportive of the board’s investigation into the complaint as part of good governance, to safeguard the interests of the company.”
Zilingo was cofounded in 2015 by Bose alongside Dhruv Kapoor, Zilingo’s chief technology and chief product officer. The pair were featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2018, almost a year prior to Zilingo raising $226 million from Sequoia Capital, Temasek, and Burda Principal that placed the company’s valuation at $970 million.
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If the company succeeds to raise another $200 million this year, it would catapult the Zilingo’s valuation to over $1 billion, placing it among a distinguished group of Singaporean startups that gained unicorn status over the past year.
The company has evolved over the years from a platform for businesses to a firm that sells products to consumers in Southeast Asia via a B2B marketplace that connects wholesale buyers with sellers around the world.