Could reports that a tech entrepreneur hit his girlfriend 117 times over half an hour — leading to his firing from a company he founded — affect the reception of his new company?
That’s not a rhetorical question.
Last August, Chahal was reportedly caught on surveillance tape conducting the attack in his San Francisco penthouse apartment. The legal complaint against him included 45 felony counts and two misdemeanors, and it accused him of such actions as hitting her in the head, kicking her, covering her mouth, “obstructing her breathing,” and alleged that he “threatened to kill” her.
He was released on $1 million bail and eventually avoided jail time when the girlfriend refused to testify or press charges and the judge ruled that the videotape had been seized illegally by police. Chahal pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges — one of battery and one of domestic violence — and was later fired by the board of RadiumOne, where he was CEO.
Now, he’s back.
“I think it’s unlikely that clients will simply ignore his background — or his personal style — although I imagine that reactions will range from unequivocal avoidance to some latent regard for boldness and passion,” Gartner VP Andrew Frank told VentureBeat. “How that balance plays out against the startup’s performance is unpredictable.”
Frank added that, since the incident is public information, “I don’t see why anyone would expect additional disclosures.”
“Some clients may learn about Gravity4 before they become aware of its founder’s background, but I wouldn’t expect this situation to have much bearing on the venture’s success,” he said. “Such details are just a search away, so being surprised by public information is probably a sign of bigger problems in management.”
Some choice selections from Chahal’s LinkedIn announcement:
“After 16 high-intensity years in the Internet advertising world I’m launching my fourth and most exciting enterprise. Each of my three previous businesses became more and more successful than its predecessor. And Gravity4 is all set to be even better. That’s just the way I am. I’m driven to surpass prior accomplishments. Money has never been the object of desire, my desires have always driven by ambition.
“Over the years I have faced and overcome numerous challenges. But nothing like those I have experienced this past year. Even in my darkest moments, however, I never had any doubt that it was all part of my journey. There was a purpose behind the ordeal—and that was to lead me to the creation of Gravity4.”
On its website, Gravity4 describes itself as “the world’s first high-frequency marketing OS” and promises to connect “three important proprietary technology stacks in one” — a multichannel DSP, real-time DMP persona store, and an app center.
As for Gravity4’s team, the site says the company was “founded by serial entrepreneur Gurbaksh Chahal and former Apple, Oracle, Yahoo, and Microsoft Executives.”
Neither Chahal nor Gravity4 have responded to VentureBeat’s request for comments or for information about who those executives might be.
Kia Kokalitcheva contributed reporting.