Russia-backed grocery app Buyk seeks US cash as bankruptcy looms
Russia-backed grocery delivery app Buyk, which has been crippled by sanctions, is seeking U.S. backers in a bid to save itself from bankruptcy, The Post has learned.
In a company-wide call hours after Buyk suddenly suspended its 15-Minute Delivery service and fired 98% of its employees due to Russian sanctions, CEO James Walker presented three options: “We find funds, we find a buyer or we have to liquidate.”
“We’re looking for short-term funding, funding that allows us to turn the lights back on,” Walker added, according to a recording of Saturday’s video call with 650 workers in New York and Chicago obtained by The Post. “I will do everything possible to revive the business.”
Walker said he’s spoken to executives of competing grocery apps, including Gorillas and Gopuff, as well as delivery giants Doordash and Grubhub. It was not immediately clear if any of these companies, some of which have their own funding issues, would want to bail out Buyk or if other sources of cash could materialize.
“There are people who are very interested in buying the business,” Walker insisted, showing courage even as he said furloughed employees should apply for unemployment benefits and consider taking work. other jobs.
A Buyk employee told the Post that Walker “said all the right things” on the call, but it seemed “too little, too late.”
Next Friday, Buyk employees are supposed to be paid for the two-week period before the previous Friday’s suspension. If Buyk fails to secure short-term funds or a buyer by then, employees likely won’t be paid on time, Walker said. If Buyk then goes bankrupt, he said, his assets will be sold to pay employees the wages owed to them.
Buyk was launched in New York last year as a spin-off from Samokat, a delivery app popular in Moscow and St. Petersburg that is partially controlled by Sberbank, a Russian state bank. Sberbank was among Russian banks sanctioned by the US and UK last week in retaliation for Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Walker told The Post on Friday that Buyk’s money problems were due to “sanctions against Russian banks” that made transfers from Russia to the United States “unsustainable.” While speaking to employees, Walker also blamed “Putin’s reluctance to let the funds leave Russia’s borders.”
Samokat and Buyk use some of the same technology and Buyk had logistics and support staff based in Russia. Walker said on the call that Buyk’s Russian employees were “absorbed” into Samokat and that any U.S. relaunch of Buyk would not include Russian employees.
Buyk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Post was the first media outlet to report that Buyk was suspending operations on Friday.
“When this New York Post article came out, I think last night,” Walker said at Saturday’s meeting, “my wife was like, ‘Ugh, what a terrible article.'”
“I said, ‘No, that’s a great article,'” Walker continued. “And frankly, I don’t care what they have to say about me, but it lets people know that Buyk is in trouble and maybe there will be a lifeline there.”