honestbee names Ong Lay Ann CEO amidst management changes

Honestbee has appointed Ong Lay Ann (pictured) as the new CEO. He will be taking over from interim CEO Brian Koo, who took on the role in May after co-founder and CEO Joel Sng exited the company. Koo will remain as the chairman of the board at honestbee.

Ong brings with him close to two decades of leadership experience in IT, commodities, real estate and infrastructure. He currently holds directorships positions at an Australia-based industrial conglomerate holding company Weststar Industrial, and ISDN Investments, the investment and trading arm of SGX-listed ISDN Holdings.

According to Ong, it is a huge privilege to lead honestbee and while the company has faced recent setbacks, he believes there are still immense opportunities to be met. He added that the management team will focus on bringing value to its customers, shareholders and partners.

Koo said that Ong is an "exceptional business leader that has been brought on board due to his track record in turning ailing businesses around". He said the team at honestbee has confidence that Ong has what it takes to restructure the business, build consumer confidence and employee morale, repair relationships and bring the brand to greater heights.

His appointment comes amidst co-founder and CTO Jonathan Low resigning from his positions. Low co-founded the company in 2015 and has been instrumental in the company’s growth over the last four years. He led the engineering team in both Singapore and Taiwan, supporting the development of honestbee’s products over the years.

“It is my privilege to have worked with some of the best talent during my time here. The decision to leave honestbee was made before Ong had come on board. However, I have full confidence that Ong will help honestbee enter its next phase and recover from its recent setbacks,” Low said.

The company recently has underwent several changes in management and operations. VP of marketing, Christina Lim exited the company couple of weeks ago. In her one-year stint with honestbee, Lim was tasked to lead the marketing team to ramp up its integrated efforts to drive brand awareness and loyalty across all its business verticals. Lim said to Marketing that in the interim, she will be focused on consulting work for companies which include start-ups.

Just last week, honestbee also confirmed that there have been delays in paying salaries but did not clarify if it was for existing staff members or those that have left the company, after about 10% of its global headcount were laid off in May this year.

While the company said that the delays are true, a honestbee spokesperson told Marketing that the new management team is taking steps to remain transparent by communicating to staff on payment issues. Most recently, there were additional cuts in Japan, beyond the initial round of layoffs in May.

The company first halted its services in Indonesia and Hong Kong, as well as its food vertical in Thailand back in May as part of a strategic review of the business. Currently in Singapore, honestbee has suspended its food and laundry services. Its grocery concierge service with FairPrice was also suspended in February, and shortly after ended its partnership with U Stars supermarket in Singapore.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, honestbee also informed consumers through an email that it is temporarily suspending operations from 22 July. Halting its food and grocery delivery service, honestbee said the decision was made from its headquarters in Singapore to reform the business so it can better serve consumers in the future when the company returns.