CEO Series

Honestbee CEO Joel Sng Officially Steps Down - Brian Koo Of LG's Founding Family Takes Over

[Update: 2 May 2019, 5.08pm]

In a media statement released today, honestbee officially announced that co-founder Joel Sng is stepping down from his CEO role today (2 May 2019).

He will be replaced by Brian Koo (or Koo Bon-woong), who is a descendent of South Korean electronics firm LG’s founding family.

This shift in leadership is “part of an ongoing [business] review,” according to the firm.

In this new role, Koo will be leading honestbee to “support the business in Singapore and other geographies”.

In expressing his gratitude to Sng for “taking honestbee from zero to one”, Koo said that he will conduct an in-depth business review to focus and align their strategic interests across various geographies and verticals, and “articulate a clear vision for honestbee’s future”.

As a “key investor” in the firm, Koo has been “instrumental in helping [honestbee] define [its] purpose and mission from day one,” said Sng.

“I am confident that he would be able to bring the company to the next level, supported by the newly-appointed executive team comprising key leaders of our organisation”.

These new appointments include Roger Koh as chief financial officer (the firm previously did not have any CFO role), Victor Chow as chief operating officer, co-founder Jonathan Low as chief technology officer, and Varian Lim as chief of staff.

Koo is listed as a shareholder for both of honestbee’s ventures registered in Singapore, and his Formation 8 VC firm has provided significant funding for the startup.

Honestbee has been receiving a lot of negative press lately surrounding its global layoffs and multiple announcements for its “temporary pause” in operations, partnerships, and food verticals in several markets.

They’ve also completely stopped all services in Hong Kong and Indonesia, as well as its food vertical in Thailand.

In addition, it was also reported that honestbee has closed its R&D centres in Vietnam and India.

Following this spate of news, the firm maintained that their “business [status] in the remaining markets stands unchanged”.

Yesterday (May 1), TechCrunch reported that honestbee CEO Joel Sng has been fired from the firm.

According to its sources, Sng has “vacated the office” on 30 April.

Responding to this news, Sng emailed all honestbee staff on the night of May 1 claiming that it’s “fake news”.

An anonymous source shared with Vulcan Post a screenshot of the said email:

Sng’s email to all honestbee staff

He wrote: “I am not an abandon ship person and I will never leave the company to be rudderless. Our investors and board are absolutely aligned on that.”

Prior to this news, multiple senior executives across several markets have resigned from the firm.

In Singapore, honestbee co-founder Isaac Tay and managing director Chris Urban have already left the firm, though their reasons for departure are unknown.

For its global layoff, about 10% of its staff headcount are affected — an increase from the aforementioned 6% stated in honestbee’s previous media statement.

Honestbee Reportedly Confirms New Round Of Funding

The firm is recently under fire for its “cash crunch” issues and is allegedly in talks with ride-hailing firms Grab and Go-Jek, among other companies in Asia, to acquire its company.

Media reports on honestbee’s delayed or unfulfilled payments to partner-vendors have been surfacing, and the firm also claims reports on the payroll delay for its Singapore staff is “untrue”.

“We will ensure that all employees, across all markets, are paid in a timely manner. In addition, we are also committed to fulfilling our financial obligations to all Bees, partners and vendors,” it said in a media statement.

Honestbee further assured its staff members that they will receive timely salary payment in a townhall session held on April 30.

According to Tech in Asia, employees were told during the session that they “will receive their pay on time as the company had confirmed a new round of funding”.

No further details about the funding was revealed.

Featured Image Credit: Nikkei Asian Review

 

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