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Updated: ValueFirst Files Case Against Former CEO Kumar Apurva For 7Cr Fraud On The Way2SMS Deal

Update: ValueFirst told us they’d get back to us on Friday, then again on Saturday, but there’s been no response from the company since we did the first story. In the absence of any comment from them, we can only offer a limited perspective. We’re now checking for more info on the Way2SMS acquisition and will update in case we get something.

Update: Please refrain from making accusations in the comments to this story. As a policy, we don’t allow personal comments and unsubstantiated accusations (except against me). Please note that we cannot publish unsubstantiated information, whatever the rumors. We’ve asked ValueFirst for comments over the past few days, and will update in case they respond.

Update: The Times of India reports that ValueFirst has lodged an FIR against Kumar Apurva, his wife and two directors of Way2SMS, alleging that Apurva had made the board of directors of ValueFirst agree to take over Way2SMS for Rs 150 crore, and that Way2SMS transfered Rs 7 crore in three installments to Kumar’s bank account, hence indicating a personal profit. The complainant says that Apurva was sacked from the post of CEO on September 23rd 2012. More on the case here. We’ll try and contact ValueFirst for comments again today (so far, there’s been no response). In case you have a copy of the FIR, please mail it to us at nikhil@medianama.com. Update: ValueFirst has said they’ll get back to us.

Update: We contacted Vishwadeep Bajaj, MD and Chairman of ValueFirst for comments, but he didn’t take the call. Just called him again, and there was no response. We also wrote to ValueFirst for comments yesterday and are yet to receive a response. Unlike what the comments to this post appear to suggest, it’s not that we didn’t check with ValueFirst. That said, we should have mentioned this in the story itself. Our apologies.

Exclusive (Sept 26 2012): Kumar Apurva, CEO of mobile messaging company ValueFirst has put in his papers, Kumar has confirmed to MediaNama, saying that he’s planning to start up, and is looking at “an exciting opportunity in the online space. I’m going to work with an exciting team and I’ve always wanted to do something entrepreneurial. The last four years with Valuefirst have been fantastic, and the structure is rock solid, so the growth will continue. The company was at Rs 22 crores when I joined and it’s on track to do Rs 200 crores this year,” he said.

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Apurva had joined ValueFirst as COO in October 2008 from Naukri.com, where he was VP & National Head for Mobility, Ad Sales and Investments. During his years at ValueFirst, the company made several acquisitions (details below), the only notable ones among them being person to person online messaging company Way2SMS and online social network Indyarocks.

ValueFirst had raised $15M From Headland Asia Ventures, NEA in February last year, and prior to that, $6 million from NEA in 2008. Earlier this year, the company shelved its IPO plans and said it was looking to raise around $50 million. It has tried to re-position itself as a “digital media” company (it’s a bit of a stretch, this), from an enterprise messaging company.

ValueFirst’s Acquisitions

Jun 2012: ValueFirst acquires IndyaRocks and mGinger.
May 2012: Acquired Way2SMS, a person to person (p2p) online messaging portal for an undisclosed amount in a cash deal.
May 2010: Invested in online social network IndyaRocks
Apr 2010: Acquired SMS Social Network Tagg.in for an undisclosed amount.
Mar 2010: Acquired majority stake in PacketShaper, a telecom products company, for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition brought in capability to do mobile applications, as well as products for Switching, Dialers, IVR, Calling Cards and IP-PBX etc
Oct 2009: Acquired Escorts Group’s VAS Firm CellNext for an undisclosed sum. CellNext operations have been integrated with Valuefirst, and it brought in M-Commerce and Voice application capability.

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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