Yesterday afternoon I was perplexed when I received a press query via WhatApp, "Wanted your reaction to Yadav's note ... 'dude', 'brainwashing', 'inhumane', 'unethical' - pretty strong language eh? What's your take - impetuous tantrum by immature over-cocky wanna-be CEO OR could the claims be justified? Your comments appreciated." I was puzzled why this tech reporter was inquiring with me about some Yogendra Yadav jibe at Arvind Kejriwal in that never ending episode of the AAP reality show being played out in the streets of New Delhi? I had zero interest in that ugly food fight so decided to ignore the message until I had an opportunity to dig deeper later in the evening.
Only when I spoke with Shradha Sharma @ YourStory did I learn to my disappointment that the 'Yadav' in question was actually Rahul Yadav (CEO @ Housing.com) who had authored a "tantrum email" to Shailendra Singh (Partner @ Sequoia India). The vitriol laced email was apparently in reaction to Sequoia extending an employment offer to a Housing.com employee. Assuming the Economic Times is accurate in reporting that Rahul CCed his entire company on the email to Sequoia, I doubt he either cared or intended to keep this a private 1:1 communication.
Wow talk about over-reaction and lack of business judgement!
IMO, regardless of the underlying facts and even if this latest incident to hire away a valued employee was the last straw in a series of events etc, the tone and tenor of Rahul's email outburst was both unprofessional and unbecoming someone who leads one of India's best funded high potential startups. Ironic that Housing.com spends a good chunk of cash launching their "rebrand" campaign with 4-page ads in national newspapers this week while concurrently their leader's tempestuous acts risk damaging the company's reputation and brand.
My message to Rahul: "Dude - you owe it to your colleagues, your investors, your board, your customers and just as importantly to the many young founders & students across our ecosystem who look up to you and Housing.com as a role model. Along with the big checks your investors entrusted to you, comes an obligation to act responsibly as a leader. Normally in similar circumstances even at much larger Fortune 500 companies, heads would roll. I hope your board offer you a reprieve and that you take time to introspect on this incident. You need to grow into a leader who acts with good judgement while retaining the big doses of chutzpah that Housing.com has always demonstrated throughout it's existence."
All of us in the ecosystem across India, want to challenge each other to greater heights not drag each other into the gutters, we should feel free to disagree but never become disagreeable, we should freely compete fiercely but ethically for talent, capital and customers! Rahul go ahead and admit in public to your poor judgement in authoring this email, leverage this incident as a learning lesson for you and the company, and get on to focussing on building a unicorn company at Housing.com! Hope you take this note in the right spirit and good luck
#I don’t know him personally and have not met him yet. But look forward to buying him coffee or a beer sometime soon!
Image source: shutterstock.com