India’s Uber rival Ola hires a new COO

Ola, the ride-sharing service that rivals Uber in India, has hired a new COO.

Vishal Kaul has joined the company from Pepsi, where he was most recently GM for Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Ola’s first hire, Pranay Jivrajka, previously occupied the COO role but now he has been “elevated” to a new position, ‘Founding Partner.’

Kaul spent 18 years with Pepsi, this is his first job at a tech company. He will be charged with running every day operations and expanding the 100-plus cities in which its service is currently active.

Jivrajka refuted media reports that he is on his way out of Ola. In an official announcement, the company said his new role would focus on “key strategic initiatives,” which he has been unofficially carrying out in recent times.

“Over the past six to eight months Pranay has been working with me closely on many key strategic initiatives and I congratulate him on his new role as a Founding Partner. This organisational change will enable him to focus on these initiatives much more sharply,” Ola CEO and co-founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in a statement.

While other Uber rivals such as Didi Chuxing in China and Grab and GoJek in Southeast Asia have raised significant war chests to continue their battles, Ola has not taken on fresh financing since November 2015.

With Uber increasing its focus on India after agreeing to sell its China business to Didi, Ola might be expected to be in the market for another funding round. Last November, it was reported to be working to raise $600 million at a valuation of around $3 billion, a step down on the $5 billion that it was valued in 2015, but that hasn’t closed yet. That backdrop brings some scrutiny to any C-level hires and fires, but Ola declined to comment any further on its new arrival.