The Strange Case of honestbee CEO Allegedly Saying He Won’t ‘Abandon Ship’ But Stepped Down a Day Later

Image: InqPOP!

Imagine this: you’re in a starship and your ship is under attack. Within minutes, the entire ship would be destroyed.

In a true Star Trek fashion, the captain would tell everyone to abandon ship while he stays on until the last crew member is safely out on his or her escape pod.

And in even truer Star Trek fashion, the ship would be destroyed before the captain could get to his escape pod. He’d be given a medal of honour, but that medal of honour would be placed beside his grave.

Well, this is fiction.

In real life, it might not be that dramatic…and not that heroic.

The Strange Case of Joel Sng

During April’s only public holiday, everyone was talking about Monica Baey. And now, in the first public holiday of May, everyone’s talking about Joel Sng, the ex-CEO of honestbee, which has been the topic in every coffeeshop.

Long story cut short, here’s the optics that we the public see: honestbee refuted allegations of cashflow problems and halted services in several regions. Then, for reasons undisclosed, the CEO resigned and an investor of the company took over.

Sounds good?

Yah, unless you didn’t read other reports by Vulcan Post and TechCrunch, two publications that focus on tech companies.

Exhibit A: Joel Sng’s Alleged Email

So, on Labour Day, TechCrunch published an article, alleging that honestbee has “let go” their CEO and co-founder, Joel Ng. In the article, it claimed that one day before Labour Day, Joel had cleared and vacated his office.

Exciting news, except that on the night of Labour Day (why are people still emailing on a public holiday?!), Vulcan Post alleged that Joel sent this email to all honestbee staff:

Guys – just want to let everyone know of the fake news article on tech crunch.

Do you know that if you nod when you suggest something, the listener would tend to agree? Here’s a video on the ten ways to control others with psychological hacks:

I am not an abandon ship person and I will never leave the company to be rudderless.

Our investors and board are absolutely aligned on that!

Now, do note that this is sent in by an anonymous source to Vulcan Post, in which TechCrunch also received the same information, but no one has come on the record, so the legitimacy of it is still unclear.

But anyways.

“Rudderless” means a lack of direction or purpose.

Does that mean…Joel is going to steer the honestbee ship to profitability, and we’re going to see honestbee becoming a unicorn and be a proud case study of the Singapore Dream?

Well.

Exhibit B: New Statement from honestbee

Yesterday, honestbee updated the public about a sudden leadership change.

Joel Sng is stepping down, and Brian Koo, an early investor of the company, would be taking over with immediate effect upon their announcement.

The reason?

It’s part of an “ongoing strategic review of our business”.

They then thanked each other and blah blah blah (basically something you’d read when some SAF commander took over a new unit lah).

The Strange Case That’s Stranger Than Yishun Being Wall-less

So, according to media reports, Joel cleared his desk on Tuesday, sent email to his staff that he won’t “abandon ship” on Wednesday after the TechCrunch article, and stepped down on Thursday?

Doesn’t that look…a tad weird?

And honestly speaking, for a high-level position like a CEO, can the transition be done in a day? Even handover for a low-level position needs at least one week.

And most importantly…is the definition of “abandon ship” different in honestbee?

Well, no matter what, I honestly think that we’d never find out.

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