22 May 2017

By Megha Merani

The newly appointed chief technology officer of much-delayed e-commerce platform Noon.com has stepped down from his role.

Omar Kassim, the founder and former chief executive of JadoPado, the online marketplace acquired by a technology fund led by Noon’s founder Mohamed Alabbar, said in a statement to Zawya on Monday he was no longer working with the fledgling e-commerce portal.

“I decided to step down from my role at Noon as of earlier today,” he said. “I wish the entire team the very best and hope they go onto building a world class product and organisation.”

He further added: “I would like to thank the team at JadoPado who've been awesome as we've made the transition. It's been a pleasure getting to know and work with every single one of them. I wish all of them the very best with everything that they're doing today and go onto doing in the future."

Kassim’s departure comes days after the departure of Noon’s CEO and a number of staff. Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters last week that chief executive Fodhil Benturquia was among the staff to leave in recent weeks. The sources attributed the exits to teething problems but did not say how many staff had left.

“Due to the shift in our operational base and the need for even greater efficiencies, there have been nominal staff reallocations and changes,” a Noon spokesman told Reuters last week, without being more specific.

Kassim confirmed to Zawya last week that he had been appointed chief technology officer at Noon.com.

“The JadoPado team will be integrated into ongoing projects such as Noon.com and will also be involved in exciting new projects across the digital spectrum in areas such as marketplaces, food commerce, payments and logistics,” he told Zawya in a statement.

Alabbar, who is also the founder and chairman of Emaar Properties, in November 2016 unveiled plans to partner with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to launch the online shopping platform, with an initial investment of $1 billion.

The Dubai billionaire said last year that Noon.com would offer 20 million products including technology, fashion, toys and books. While the platform was originally due to launch in January this year, Alabbar said last week it is still “on track” to start operations before the end of 2017.

Noon.com’s acquisition of JadoPado came soon after Amazon's acquisition last month of regional e-commerce website Souq.com, which advisor Goldman Sachs told Reuters was “the biggest-ever technology M&A transaction in the Arab world”.

Amazon agreed to buy Souq.com for an undisclosed price last month, even after Alabbar made a counter offer worth $800 million to the regional e-commerce firm on behalf of Emaar Malls Group, the retail unit of Emaar Properties and the operator of The Dubai Mall.

JadoPado launched in 2011 and developed into a wider online marketplace that allows sellers to create their own virtual shops and sell directly to buyers.

© Zawya 2017