Zomato’s ‘war room’ to take on New Year’s Eve surge stirs work culture debate online

Food-delivery platform Zomato set up a ‘war room‘ on December 31 to handle the ordering frenzy for new year celebrations across the country, which also pushed the company at the center of a work-life balance debate online.

Deepinder Goyal, cofounder and chief executive of Zomato, on Sunday shared images from the company’s ‘war room’ showing employees huddled in conference rooms, to take on heightened demand on account of New Year’s Eve. “Ready to get (India’s) party started ????,” his post on X read.

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Zomato anticipated that New Year’s Eve would be a busy day, so the preparation started weeks earlier, a senior executive at the company told us. The tech team had to ensure the app wouldn’t buckle under the order blizzard. Meanwhile, the supply crews stocked restaurants up, anticipating a 30-40% demand spike. To keep the wheels turning, delivery platforms offered extra cash to delivery executives, boosting their driver numbers by 30-35% in some places.

The company’s New Year’s Eve battleground, or ‘war room’ as it was titled, brewed a different storm online. Photos of this “war room” shared by Goyal in a celebratory spirit, invited debate online, with some saying the company is setting a bad precedent for tech companies and startups by overworking their employees.

On this, other users jumped to Zomato’s defense, dismissing the ‘unnecessary outrage’.

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Executives from the startup world also came to Goyal’s defence, including Rahul Ganjoo, former chief executive of food delivery at Zomato.

Ritesh Agarwal, cofounder and group CEO of Oyo, shared his own image of Oyo’s war room. “Deepi, thanks to you and your team for keeping the OYO war room well fed and stocked up,” his post read.

Zomato’s orders hit an all-time high on December 31, with Goyal sharing on X that they surpassed the combined number of orders it clocked for New Year Eve’s over the past six years (2015-2020).

Not just food orders, quick-commerce firms Blinkit, Swiggy Instamart and Zepto also saw their order count on Sunday surpass the total orders on December 31, 2022. While Zomato-owned Blinkit and Instamart said the numbers surpassed the year-earlier count by early evening, Zepto claimed it exceeded that by the afternoon itself.