Indian AI Firm Saarthi.ai Allegedly Fired Employees, Withheld Salaries; CEO Clarifies Claims

Bengaluru-based AI tech support startup Saarthi.ai has fired some employees buckling under “investor pressure” to become profitable, and has allegedly withheld salaries of several employees since March 2023.

While an employee took to a social media platform to claim that withholding of salaries has affected a substantial chunk of staff, the numbers could not be independently verified.

Responding to queries, Founder and CEO Vishwa Nath Jha said the company has “let go” of employees in batches owing to “investor pressure” to become profitable, but declined to divulge the number of employees affected by the move.

“Our team has been restructured in light of technological advancement and many team members were let go in batches as a result. We had to automate low level professional cognitive skills of our staff due to investor pressure to become profitable,” he told PTI.

Addressing concerns of withholding salaries, he said that the full and final settlement for early batches of the employees who were let go has been cleared.

“The rest will be cleared within 90 days as per the company policy. We’re working with investors to resolve this…event,” he added.

An employee of startup social media platform Grapevine posted, “Saarti.ai (Saarthi.ai), an AI-based tech support startup, hasn’t paid salaries to their employees since March’23. They have been giving fake hopes that employees (140+ folks) will receive it soon and all…the senior management is still getting paid, but others aren’t.” The post further read, “Employees are scared to call this out as they are worried that they won’t get their backlog salary.” This comes as quick commerce logistics startup Dunzo also delayed employee salaries for June and July till September 2023. Dukaan CEO Suumit Shah also announced on Twitter recently that the company replaced 90 percent of their customer care staff with AI chatbot Lina for profitability. 

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