Ekhanei, Telenor’s classified marketplace site in Bangladesh, has shut down its operations, according to a statement from the company.
“Based on online classifieds market condition and not being able to develop the company into a sustainable and profitable business, the owners (Telenor, Schibsted and Naspers) have decided to close the operations of the company, effective of May 17, 2017” says a statement on the Telenor’s website. “Telenor’s main task now, together with partners, is to take care of the affected employees, whom will be offered severance packages according to company policies.”
Ekhanei has an interesting story. The company was originally founded by Kamal Quadir, now CEO of bKash, as Cellbazaar in 2006 which Telenor acquired in 2010. For a brief period of time, the company was relaunched as a value-added service for Grameenphone users. In 2014, it was rebranded to Ekhanei.com when new stakeholders came on board and Schibsted joined to the management along with Telenor Group.
Online classified has seen quite a dramatic development in Bangladesh over the past few years. Initially, players like bikroy, Ekhanei and Olx (Olx merged with Ekhanei in 2015) invested heavily in promotion and market development. While the exit of Ekhanei.com offers an opportunity for bikroy, the leader in the space, it also raises a question about the short term viability of classified marketplace in Bangladesh.