It was 3pm sharp when Kağan Sümer appeared as the only visible participant in the „all-hands meeting“ on Zoom on Friday June 11th. The CEO and co-founder of Gorillas Technologies – the fastest startup ever in Germany to reach unicorn status – called the meeting to troubleshoot the recent developments in his company.
Following the allegedly sudden layoff of the delivery rider Santiago on June 9 dozens of rider have blocked two warehouses of the delivery startup that emphasizes the speed of delivery – 10 minutes – as its unique selling proposition. After a blockade at one warehouse in Charlottenstrasse the protest continued at another hub in Torstraße 205 in Berlin-Mitte. Management was eventually forced to shut down operations for the day. The picket line continued the next day and caught the attention of local newspapers and regional television.
Kağan Sümer had to react and did it like only a startup CEO can handle such a situation: by calling an all-hands meeting where only he gets to speak.
While already streaming live he repeatedly asked someone off-screen if enough participants are online already.
„We’ll start when we reach 500 participants. Or shall we wait until 800?“
Sümer did everything to appear informal if not shirtsleeved (i mean literally). Apparently searching for the right words he told the audience on the „all-hands staff meeting“, that just one year ago he spent most of his days doing deliveries on his own bike: Riding longer and harder than everyone else.
What he didn’t bother to mention was that the company raised more than 330 million in two funding rounds between December 2020 and March 2021 and is currently valued 1 billion US-Dollar. A huge market-value for a bunch of friends that decided to change the perception of delivery riders in the gig economy.
At least that was the self-decription that Sümer evoked in his speech. The layoff of Santiago was based on substantial reasons and is not up for debate. What is – according to Sümer – up to debate instead is if everyone is keeping a positive attitude and focusing on the issue at hand: Riding.
„It has to be about riding and not about politics.“