It is a difficult meeting. At a busy coffee shop in Gurugram. Music blares from the speakers, coffee machines busy, hissing, and Deepinder Goyal, the CEO and co-founder of Zomato, sits in a chair. He sips his tea, leans forward to hear the questions.

Did you read the email before he sent it?

Of course. We’re co-founders. We worked together for 10 years.

… I thought, maybe he wrote it independently…

No, why? When he wrote it he asked me to read it. He had to ask because I have to run whatever is left.

So, when you were reading it, how did you react?

Nice email.

Goyal talks about the email his co-founder Pankaj Chaddah sent to all of Zomato announcing his resignation. On 1 March. As soon as he sent that email, Chaddah put out some tweets, primarily to quell any speculation that would come after.

The next day, there were a few newspaper inches dedicated to Chaddah’s exit. And that was it. The news disappeared quietly into the long weekend. It was all very strategic. Very Zomato.

In a world where founders are celebrated, sometimes even raised to demigod statuses, Chaddah is an outlier. It is that unique part of being a co-founder. The other guy. You are sometimes forgotten. Think about it, when you say Google, you think about Larry Page but not always Sergey Brin. Microsoft is always Bill Gates and very rarely Paul Allen. How about Apple? Steve Jobs, sometimes Steve Wozniak but almost never Ronald Wayne. Closer home? Ola is Bhavish Aggarwal and not Ankit Bhati.

Now, think of Zomato. It is Deepinder Goyal. Almost never Chaddah. It is just how it works. Zomato has been synonymous with Goyal for a few years now. Very few noticed Chaddah until he was gone. But that’s you. And that’s me.

Inversely, for the 2,000+ employees of the Gurugram-headquartered food tech unicorn, Chaddah was the one with the magic wand. He taught them how to make money off uploading menus on the internet. He taught them to sell. And for many, he was what made Zomato tick. The 200-something replies that clogged Zomato’s email server after he sent the farewell letter tell their own tale. But as soon as this announcement was made, Zomato had a shakeup.


Patanjali Pahwa

Patanjali has spent over seven years in journalism. He last worked at Business Standard as Principal Correspondent, where he wrote on startups, e-commerce companies and venture capital. He has worked at an array of institutions, which include Forbes India, Caravan and Outlook Business. He is a Mumbaikar, born and brought up. Patanjali did his BSc in IT from Mumbai University and then got his journalism degree from IIJNM in Bangalore. He is enamoured by Ernest Hemingway and Tom Waits and may try to sneak in references to them in his stories.

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