Mapping the scale-down in Pakistan’s tech ecosystem

5 mins read

Owing to the worsening global macro outlook, companies all over the world have come under serious financial strain. This has particularly affected VC-backed startups who now are grappling with markdown in valuations and a funding crunch that had long fueled their cash burn. Consequently, extravagant employee perks and aggressive talent have been replaced by mass layoffs and hiring freezes. According to the Layoffs.fyi tracker, 350+ startups have laid off more than 53,000 employees already. That list includes the likes of Huobi, the cryptocurrency exchange, and delivery company GoPuff.

Pakistan’s economic situation has also been tumultuous amid uncertainty over the IMF program. Changing tides in the global VC landscape have also come to haunt the country as startup funding dipped 40% in Q2-2022. With investments drying out, survival instincts and austerity measures have kicked in. Many local players have announced mass layoffs while some have even shut shop.

What it does (did): Airlift started off as a smart bus service but after Covid-19, pivoted to quick commerce offering grocery delivery in 30 minutes.
Founded: 2019
Total Funding: $109.2M
Scale-down 32% of staff laid off in April, complete shutdown of operations in July
Reason: Running out of cash while money from investors would take 2+ months to be wired.

What it does: Retailo is an online regional B2B marketplace for SME retailers in the MENAP region.
Founded:
2020
Total Funding:
$45M
Scale-down:
Unspecified number of employees from the engineering and logistics team
Reason:
Strategic alignment in order to focus on driving profitability and sustainability

What it does: SWVL offers tech-enabled mass transit solutions in 135 cities in 20 countries.
Founded:
2017
Total Funding:
$244M
Scale-down:
32% of its workforce (400+ employees)
Reason:
Reductions in the workforce due to roles being replaced by automated systems powered by investments in SWVL’s engineering, product, and support function teams.

What it does: VavaCars is a used-car transactions platform based in Turkey.
Founded:
2017
Total Funding:
$50M
Scale-down:
Complete team looking after operations in Pakistan (70+ employees)
Reason:
Permanent closure of operations in Pakistan.

What it does: Sendoso is a sending platform that helps companies connect and drive revenue with personalized gifts, eGifts, virtual experiences, and more.
Founded:
2016
Total Funding:
$152.7M
Scale-down:
90% of its team in Pakistan (70+ employees)
Reason:
‘Strategic realignment to reduce surface area’

What it does: Truck-it-in is a B2B platform tech company that provides simplified freight solutions.
Founded:
2020
Total Funding:
$17.5M
Scale-down:
30% of the workforce (60+ employees)
Reason:
Reduction in headcount due to global economic downturn.

What it does: Dawaai is an online pharmacy for complete healthcare management.
Founded:
2014
Total Funding:
$9.5M
Scale-down:
Complete team looking after operations in Hyderabad (35+ employees)
Reason:
Service pulled out of the market in Hyderabad.

What it does: Jovi Technologies is an online delivery solution provider.
Founded:
2021
Total Funding:

Scale-down:
Complete workforce laid off (240+ employees)
Reason:
As per the founder, the startup has temporarily halted operations and will resume operations within 6-8 weeks.*

What it does: Dukan.pk digitizes sellers by helping them create web stores, accept online payments and automate delivery.
Founded:
2021
Total Funding:

Scale-down:
25% of the total workforce
Reason:
Wants to achieve profitability and decrease reliance on VC funding.

What it does: Trax is an end-to-end logistics and supply chain company that offers last-mile delivery services to over 450+ destinations in Pakistan.
Founded:
2014
Total Funding:

Scale-down:
50 employees with more layoffs in the pipeline
Reason:
15-20% reduction in the total workforce due to rise in costs and dip in volume

There have also been unconfirmed reports of layoffs at Tajir, Bykea, Careem, and Motive.

PS: If you have any details about other companies that have let go of their staff recently, please reach out to us at natasha@datadarbar.io.

Natasha Uderani

Natasha Uderani has been involved with the technology ecosystem since 2017, last working as the City Lead for Cheetay. She has previously worked with Careem looking after emerging markets in the South region.

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