Indian Ride-hailing Giant Ola Cabs Ropes in eBay Top Brass to Lead Australia Ops

Former eBay CEO, Smith will head and develop the strategic team at Ola and play a pivotal leadership role in building company's presence in Australia

You're reading Entrepreneur Asia Pacific, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

The global ride-sharing company Ola is now all set to boost its presence in Australia with the appointment of Simon Smith as Managing Director.


Former eBay CEO, Smith will head and develop the strategic team at Ola and play a pivotal leadership role in building company’s presence in Australia. The ride-sharing giant has made its entry into the Australian market six months ago. The company is currently in six capitals including Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra as well as Goal Coast, and has plans to launch its operations soon in Adelaide, Darwin and Hobart in near future too.

On his appointment at Ola, Managing Director at Ola Australia Simon Smith said, “I relish building organisations from the ground up and I 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.”

A former McKinsey consultant, Smith has a wide experience of working with tech giants that includes Sportsbet and Servcorp at senior positions.

With an aim to disrupt the already competitive market of Australia, Indian startup Ola is fighting its tooth and nail to compete against US-giant Uber, Estonian-based Taxify and Australian startup GoCatch. For the new appointment Smith, the ride to take this Indian startup into the Australian roads wouldn’t be so easy.

Highly Competitive Market in Australia

While the other players in the Australian market are offering discounts to consumers in a bid to grab market share, a new kid on the block, Ola is strategizing its move by partnering with drivers at one of the lowest commission rates in the market. The company is attracting drivers by partnering with them at 7.5 per cent commission rate, as well as by offering daily payments to them. Since its launch in January, the company has received close to 40,000 registrations from driver partners in Australian market.

Founded in 2011, Ola has the backing of Japanese giant Softbank as well as Chinese internet giant Tencent. The ANI Technologies backed ride-hailing platform clocked a turnover of Rs 1,286 crore in FY17 compared with Rs 758 crore in the previous financial year, according to the data-tracking platform Tofler. 

On the appointment of Simon Smith as Australian Managing Director, the Co-founder and CEO, Bhavish Aggarwal talked about Smith’s previous achievements in the industry. He said, “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 consumers and tens of thousands of driver partners.”

With this refreshing approach, will this Indian startup be able to win over Australian hearts is yet to see, but the battleground for ride-hailing is definitely prepared in Australia, which can’t be ignored at all costs.