Russia-funded grocery app Buyk furloughs CEO as sanctions start to hit hard

Grocery delivery app Buyk has furloughed its own CEO, who had been leading the company’s efforts to raise American money after Russian funding was cut off due to US sanctions.

CEO James Walker was put on vacation Tuesday morning, according to messages sent by Buyk executives to some of the 15-minute-delivery app’s 650 employees in New York and Chicago.

Buyk’s future – which the company says will consist of raising American money, selling itself or filing for bankruptcy – is now in the hands of its Russian co-founder Rodion Shishkov, company releases to The Post said.

Shishkov founded Buyk last year as a spin-off of Russian delivery app Samokat, which is partly owned by sanctioned state bank Sberbank. Shishkov, co-founder Slava Bocharov and other investors with Russian connections had funded Buyk since its inception last year — a position the company said became “unsustainable” last week when the US hit Russia with crippling sanctions.

Facing a lack of funding, Buyk abruptly furloughed 98% of its employees on Friday, then told them they would only get their paychecks on time for the past two weeks if the company was able to find new emergency funding or a buyer for it Week.

Jacob Walker
Buyk CEO James Walker was furloughed on Tuesday.

Before Walker himself was added to the furlough list on Tuesday, the CEO told employees over the weekend that he would “do whatever it takes to get the company back on track.”

Even the CEO Posted a defiant selfie on Twitter Monday morning, holding a Buyk pin and writing that he’s got a “5 o’clock start” with a “difficult week ahead.”

Because Walker had presented himself to employees as the executive who would push to save Buyk through new financing or a sale, many workers were stunned to learn of his furlough on Tuesday.

Buyk’s 15-minute delivery service competes with companies like Gopuff, Gorillas and Fridge No More.
Spencer Platt

When Buyk employees asked in a group chat who would now lead the search for new funding, Buyk’s US retail operations manager Yana Pesotskaya wrote: “Please give me time to find out the next steps.”

But even as Pesotskaya — a former executive at Sberbank, Burger King and Under Armor in Moscow — urged employees to be patient, she appeared to be looking for a new job herself.

“Hello, looking for a new carrier [sic] Opportunities,” Pesotskaya appeared to write in a LinkedIn post Monday. “I am now settled in New York on an O1 visa, which allows me to work in the US. But also keep an eye out for opportunities in Russia.”

Angry Buyk employees circulated screenshots of Pesotskaya’s post Tuesday as they waited to know if they had any hope of keeping their own jobs or getting their paychecks on time.

Buyk, Pesotskaya and Shishkov did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while Walker could not be reached directly. Russia-funded grocery app Buyk furloughs CEO as sanctions start to hit hard


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