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A startup vanishes mysteriously, leaving employees unpaid.

A startup vanishes mysteriously, leaving employees unpaid

Phablecare, a health-tech startup based in Bengaluru, has mysteriously vanished, leaving hundreds of former employees unpaid and disgruntled. The company, which had received a sizable $25 million in funding in March 2022, raised eyebrows when it abruptly deactivated its website and ceased all business operations last month, in August 2023.

Phablecare was founded in 2018 with a workforce of around 2,000 employees but saw a drastic reduction in headcount in the months following its funding round, leaving it with only 200 employees. Although the company appeared to be on the rise in January 2023, welcoming new hires and relocating to a larger office space, it took a sharp turn for the worse by requesting that all employees resign within six weeks due to severe financial constraints. Former employees have been battling to be compensated for their work from December 2022 to February 2023.

A former employee stated that they had not been to work for two and a half months. While management promised to settle employee debts by May, none of their promises were kept. Salary delays had plagued the company since October 2022, and by January of this year, it was clear that the company’s financial woes were worsening.

The Karnataka Labour Department received a complaint from 20 employees in April against the company’s founders, Sumit Sinha and Mukkesh Kumar Bansal. Despite numerous letters from the department urging settlement, the founders made excuses and even claimed an impending acquisition that never happened.

Bansal’s response to employees’ emails in May provided little hope, as he admitted to being unable to pay them and claiming that some employees had abused their positions unethically. Former employees, on the other hand, denied the allegations, blaming the founders, who have since gone silent.

Former employees discovered no traces of Phablecare or its founders when they visited both the old and new office spaces in HSR Layout. The Labour Department has backed the case and advised employees to file a lawsuit. The fate of Phablecare remains unknown, leaving its former employees in a frustrating and difficult situation.

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