Update: Rahul Yadav took to Facebook and said that he is not involved with the hacking of the website and the post suggests that it might be an inside job.
Earlier: Real estate portal Housing.com’s website was hacked in what appears to be retaliation to former CEO Rahul Yadav’s sacking last week. The website was back up intermittently. Users were greeted with the following message. A view of the screen shot:
The website has a message that Housing would be able to solve real estate but 10 times better with “The Chief Architect”. MediaNama has reached out to both Housing and Rahul Yadav for a comment and we will update once we hear from them.
Following a series of controversial incidents which brought the company under bad light, last week, Housing.com‘s board fired the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer Rahul Yadav and a release said that he will no longer be an employee or be associated with the company.
“The Housing Board, unanimously agreed to bring Yadav’s tenure to a close, with reference to his behavior towards investors, ecosystem and the media. The Board believed that his behavior is not befitting of a CEO and is detrimental to the company, known for its innovative approach to product development, market expansion and brand building,” Housing said in a statement.
Yadav wrote a ‘scornful’ resignation letter on the 30th of April to board members and investors, criticising their intellectual capabilities and giving them a one week deadline to ‘help the transition’. The investors responded the next day with an acknowledgement of the resignation through the law firm Morrison & Foerster. The following day, he withdrew his resignation and apologized for his ‘unacceptable comments about the board members’. But it seemed that he had run out of goodwill with the board and they finally took the decision to fire him.
Housing also said that the hunt for an interim CEO is underway and a transition plan has been put in place. The current senior executives of Housing will continue to run the operations on a daily basis, and ensure its continued smooth functioning. The Board and the Operating Committee will remain closely involved with all key decisions.
A timeline of Rahul Yadav’s controversies
Yadav’s controversies began in March this year when he fired an email to Shailendra Singh of Sequoia Capital alleging him of poaching Housing’s employees.
Mar 6, 2015: Yadav fires a mail to Shailendra Singh of Sequoia Capital India alleging him of poaching Housing employees.
From: Rahul Yadav
Date: Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 7:39 PM
Subject: Last straw
To: Shailendra Singh (Sequoia Capital India)
I’ve been humble to you guys even after inhuman and unethical things that you’ve done with Housing in the past.
You did the same inhuman and unethical things with large number of entrepreneurs including Ola, TFS, Flipkart, Dexetra and many more…
Now I just came to know you personally are completely after Housing’s employees and are brainwashing them to open some stupid incubation.
If you don’t stop messing around with me, directly or even indirectly, I will vacate the best of your firm.
Also, this mark the beginning of the end of Sequoia Cap in India.
Try me 🙂
March 10-11: Shailendra Singh takes to Quora to post his reply:
I am deeply hurt by this e-mail. I received this at 10 pm last weekend when I was in Hong Kong with the rest of our global partnership, and it came as a surprise and a big disappointment. My best guess is that this mail has been triggered by an offer that we made to one of the Housing employes to join us as an analyst. Here is some more context – based on feedback from entrepreneurs in India, we decided to expand our analyst pool to include younger team members who have start–up experience. During this recruiting exercise, we evaluated over 100 candidates from multiple companies and geographies, and I personally met about a dozen of them, including two housing employees, whom I spent an hour each with. We made an offer to one of them, and he decided to join us.
While these are the facts, I would still like to use this opportunity to talk about something larger and close to my heart – how will we all work together to create a better start-up ecosystem in india? During my career in the valley, what stood out is a feeling of community – amongst entrepreneurs, employees, and investors – and a sense of professionalism, not personalizing the competition between funds or individuals, and having a drink together in the evening. For us, that means not being vindictive and petty and instead being collaborative with the ecosystem – to focus on what matters in the long term. While I don’t know Rahul well personally, and have only met him 1-1 once, I felt incredibly nice to read a recent article about how Housing has been one of the most active breeding grounds for new startups. At Sequoia, we consider it a privilege to do what we do – and be trusted by some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs, not just to be in their cap table, but to have a seat around the table to help set direction for their companies. We take our role very seriously, and we are deeply committed to our portfolio companies and their teams. Honestly, we have neither time nor intention to do anything else, let alone target a company we have no ownership in.
Finally, I want to also make it clear to all the trolls who are bound to jump on this – I will not respond to anything you have to say as long as you hide behind the cowardly façade of anonymity. We are incredibly fortunate to work at Sequoia, proud of our entrepreneurs, our track record, and our team and their professional accomplishments, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the current and next several generations of entrepreneurs. I encourage people who have questions or concerns about any of this to reach out to me directly. Or even better, talk to any of the entrepreneurs we are privileged to be partners with.
I wish the housing team and Rahul good luck.
Not entirely done, Yadav trolls in a fit of rage:
March 12: ET reported that investors were considering removing Yadav as CEO of Housing. According to the report, an investor said that “The discussion (for a new leadership team and to replace Yadav as CEO) has been going on for the last couple of months but concrete search has just begun. (We have) been closely monitoring the company and guiding the founders. But this can’t actively go on forever.”
Responding to the article the same day, Yadav shot of an email to Housing employees. Source: Quora.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Rahul Yadav email@example.com
Date: Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 5:19 AM
Subject: Investors considering to remove Housing.com co-founder Rahul Yadav as CEO: Economic Times
To: Everyone firstname.lastname@example.org
Investors called me and said Times is behind you, be ready for such story
MagicBricks (Our competitor and a Times Group Company) is trying to close funding round in US while malign Housing’s position in India.
Housing is being loved in US.
And they linked me with that unfortunate car accident. They have no shame!
After paying for past and upcoming marketing blasts’ advances as well, We still have 75Mn+ in our bank.
Ola cabs raised $200Mn. We raised $90Mn. Almost at the same time. Their cash burn is 125Cr per month and ours <20Cr that too with recent ramp up. Where is the high cash burn? Overseas expansion: We WISH to. We DREAM to. How come dreaming is leading to cash burn in international? Please suggest what to do with this Times Group 🙂 Have a good day. Cheers, Rahul ———- Forwarded message ———- From: “Suhasini Mehta (Nexus Venture)” Date: Mar 11, 2015 4:57 PM Subject: Fwd: Query on Housing.com
To: “Suvir Sujan (Nexus Venture)”
Nonsense story! My advice is not to respond at all.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Madhav Times Group email@example.com
Date: Wed, Mar 11, 2015 at 4:51 PM
Subject: Query on Housing.com
To: “Suvir Sujan (Nexus Venture)” Cc: “Suhasini Mehta (Nexus Venture)”
Hope you are doing well. We are writing to you today to seek your comments on a story about Housing that I reached out yesterday for
We understand that:
- While the Housing team is very much product and technology savvy, the CEO is unable to address problems of scale and leadership within the company.
- There have been continuous disagreements on the way the company has been spending investor money, in terms of new country launches, hiring, marketing despite board intervention
- The focus of Housing has drifted away from listings to new properties and currently the company lacks direction
- Keeping all this in mind the board has had been considering for the last couple of months to get an external professional CEO while co-founder Rahul Yadav focuses building out product/technology further
We will be writing this story for tomorrow’s edition and would be great if you could comment on each of the points listed by 7 pm.
Look forward to hearing back from you on this.
March 17: Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, the holding company of Times Group sent a legal notice to real estate portal Housing.com owner, Locon Solutions Pvt Ltd., and its board for alleged defamation. The notice asked Housing.com CEO Rahul Yadav and its directors to issue an unconditional apology, and also wanted Rs 100 crore ($16 million) in damages.
April 6: Responding to the rumours that investors were seeking to replace him considering that all the co-founders stake put together was less than 10%, Yadav told the Mint that “That’s not true, I alone have about 10% stake. According to the latest cap table, all founders put together have a stake of about 20%.”
Interestingly, an ET report released today, mentions that SoftBank owns 32% of Housing, Nexus Venture Partners owns 19% and Helion Venture Partners owns 10%. ET had reported similar numbers; Yadav owns about a 4.57% stake in the company, Nexus Ventures owns 19%, SoftBank 32%, and Helion Ventures and Falcon Edge about 10% each.
April 30: Rahul Yadav finally resigns on the 30th of April, giving board members 7 days to find a replacement. The content of his letter:
Dear board members and investors, I don’t think you guys are intellectually capable enough to have any sensible discussion anymore. This is something which I not just believe but can prove on your faces also! I had calculated long back (by taking avg life expectancy minus avg sleeping hrs) that I only have ~3L (hours) in my life. ~3L hrs are certainly not much to waste with you guys!
Hence resigning from the position of Directorship, Chairmanship and the CEO position of the company. I’m available for the next 7 days to help in the transition. Won’t give more time after that. So please be efficient in this duration.
May 1: The letter by investors acknowledging Yadav’s resignation came in the next day through the law firm Noah Carr Morrison & Foerster (Source: ET)
In a discussion among the Investor group, I was requested to send you an express acknowledgement, on their behalf and without any other effect on the terms of our agreements, of your April 30 resignation from your positions (1) on the board of directors (including as chairman and managing director) and (2) as CEO.
With best regards Noah Carr Morrison & Foerster LLP
May 5 : Yadav backtracks, apologises for his behaviour and is brought back on board as CEO of the company.
May 15: Yadav announced that he was transferring his entire share holding worth Rs 150-200 crore to the company’s employees and challenged Ola CEO Bhavish Agarwal and Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal to return half of their stakes to their employees.
July 1: Housing’s board sacks Yadav and begins looking for a new CEO.