Fired by his board in the wake of a firestorm over the alleged beating of his girlfriend, RadiumOne founder Gurbaksh Chahal defended himself with a blog post, saying he felt betrayed by his close advisors.
The board fired Chahal, who was allegedly caught on a security camera hitting his girlfriend 117 times last summer. He was arrested on Aug. 9, 2013, and charged with 45 felonies. A judge threw out most of the case on April 2, as the security camera footage was ruled inadmissable in court. Ultimately, the District Attorney offered Chahal a settlement: The 45 felonies would be dismissed if he pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor and paid a $500 fine. Chahal took the deal.
“While I had full intentions of getting fully exonerated of these charges, that would require me to go through trial and waste another 1 year of my life,” Chahal said in a blog post.
He said he told his board about the district attorney’s offer ahead of time. The board included Steve Westly, Robin Murray, David Silverman, Bill Lonergan, and Ajay Chopra.
Chahal wrote, “They were all ecstatic with this offer since this was the last pre-cursor for RadiumOne to enter the next stage of it growth. Deep down inside, I still did not want to take this deal since I have two loving sisters, a niece, and mother I love to death. But I ended up taking one for the team and accepted the DA’s proposal and settling this case.”
When the news became public, Chahal said he received a lot of hate from the Internet.
“This week, social media became the court of public opinion and decided to grow a life of its own,” he wrote. “Similar to the Mozilla CEO debacle, each day-by-day it got worse. People can’t look at the facts in 140 characters so they start to believe all of the falsified exaggerated allegations. They can only choose to hate. Prominent social media bloggers such as Kara Swisher turned this into a social issue. That ended up making things go viral.”
On Twitter, Swisher said her post on the topic wasn’t the reason why it all went viral. Public pressure for the board to fire Chahal kept growing.
Chahal said he received an encouraging message last Wednesday from board member Robin Murray. Murray reportedly wrote, “Been thinking some more. Absolutely don’t do anything. Let the haters hate a[n]d move on. This will blow over very quickly and we focus on the IPO. Don’t let them get to you. Don’t respond. I know it sucks but i think this is the right way fwd. Stay strong amigo. I feel for you.”
Then, 48 hours later, the board called a special meeting. They asked Chahal to resign. When he refused to do that, the board fired him. Bill Lonergan, chief operating officer, took over as CEO.
“Even though I only accepted this misdemeanor plea under their guidance,” Chahal wrote. “Is this what real entrepreneurism is about? Is this what venture capitalism is about? Not to forget, in my last startup I made these same individuals over 800% on their investment? Whatever happened to real ethics? What happened to integrity? Whatever happened [to] supporting your CEO during the tough times knowing the truth? Or is just a fabrication of today’s society of greed at all costs.”
In another development prior to Chahal’s sacking, Doug Chavez, vice president of marketing at RadiumOne, tweeted his resignation letter. In response, Chahal said at the time that Chavez had “no skills.”
And former executive Chavez responded: “I resigned because working with you was insufferable.”
In an earlier post, Chahal said, “Right now there are many people calling for my head. I am the recipient of death threats and hateful language aimed not just at what I was accused of, but attacking me for my ethnicity, my social class, and even my gender. Many would gladly lynch me based because of my origin – and not the facts of my case. I know that I cannot change the minds of those who choose to hate me without cause — and base their hate only on the misrepresentations they have read, but I hope that others will be open minded and give me the opportunity to tell my story and paint a broader and very different picture.”
In that post, Chahal admitted to losing his temper, and he apologized for that. But he denied hitting his girlfriend 117 times. He denied injuring her or causing “any trauma as the UCSF medical reports clearly document.” He proceeded to deny various pieces of evidence and apologized for others who suffered for the bad publicity related to his personal matter.