The Post has learnt that Russia-backed food delivery app Buyk, which has been hampered by sanctions, is looking for American backers in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.
CEO James Walker laid out three options in a companywide call hours after Buyk abruptly ceased its 15-minute delivery service and furloughed 98 percent of its staff owing to Russian sanctions: “We find funds, we find a buyer, or we have to liquidate.”
According to a tape of the Saturday video chat with 650 workers in New York and Chicago obtained by The Post, Walker continued, “We’re seeking for short-term cash, funding that allows us to get the lights back on.” “I’ll do everything I can to help the company get back on track.”
Walker said he met with executives from Gorillas and Gopuff, as well as delivery giants Doordash and Grubhub, about rival grocery applications. It was unclear whether any of those companies, some of which are experiencing financial difficulties of their own, would wish to help Buyk or if other sources of finance might be found.
Buyk CEO James Walker stated, “I will do everything I can to relaunch the company.”
LinkedIn is the source of this image.
“There are people who are highly interested in buying the company,” Walker insisted, putting on a brave face despite telling furloughed workers to apply for unemployment benefits and look for new work.
According to one Buyk employee, Walker “said all the right things” during the call, but it was “too little, too late.”
Employees at Buyk are due to be paid for the two-week period preceding the previous Friday’s suspension on Friday. Employees will likely not be paid on time if Buyk does not acquire short-term funds or a buyer by then, according to Walker. If Buyk goes bankrupt, its assets will be liquidated to pay employees the money they are owed, he said.
Last year, Buyk was established in New York as a spin-off of Samokat, a popular delivery app in Moscow and St. Petersburg that is partially owned by Sberbank, a Russian state-owned bank. Last Monday, the US and UK sanctioned Sberbank as part of their response for Vladimir Putin’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine.
Buyk’s financial difficulties, according to Walker, are the result of “sanctions against Russian banks,” which have made transfers from Russia to the United States “untenable.” Walker also blamed “Putin’s unwillingness to let monies leave Russia’s borders” while speaking with staff.
Buyk had logistics and support workers headquartered in Russia, and Samokat used some of the same technology. On the call, Walker stated that Buyk’s Russian staff have been “absorbed” by Samokat and that any Buyk relaunch in the United States will exclude Russian employees.
A request for comment from Buyk was not immediately returned.
The Washington Post was the first to disclose that Buyk would be shutting down on Friday.
“My wife was like, ‘Ugh, what a nasty thing,’ when that New York Post item came out last night,” Walker stated during Saturday’s meeting.
“I answered, ‘No, it’s a fantastic article,'” she says. Walker went on. “And, to be honest, I don’t care what they say about me; it just lets people know that Buyk is in danger, and maybe there’s a way out.”