Dear RadiumOne Board Members,
In covering the day-to-day launches, funding announcements, and feature additions of tech startups and companies, I rarely think about the founder or CEO of a company’s personal life.
Sure, when it’s a serial entrepreneur, I take note. Or if the founder happens to be a friend, I’ll ask about their kids and families, and trade banter over the usual kid talk. But I prefer to take an objective, if not ignorant, view of the personal background of the people behind the products and businesses I report on.
As you know, the CEO of the company you are on the board on, RadiumOne CEO and founder Gurbaksh Chahal, was arrested and charged with violently hitting and kicking a woman in his home 117 times over a 30-minute period. The attack was caught on video, which was then ruled to be inadmissible in court because of the nature of the way in which the police obtained it. Additionally, the victim did not want to testify and cooperate with prosecutors.
As someone who has been trained as a counselor to domestic violence victims, I know this is quite common. And it goes without saying, this particular crime touches a personal note.
Chahal was charged with 45 felony charges, which he was able to avoid due to the video being inadmissible, and was sentenced to only three years of probation plus some community service.
As the mother of a daughter, I have to ask what if it was your daughter?
What if it was your child who was kicked and beaten so many times she suffered a hematoma after the attack (according to the medical report we received)?
How would you feel about the CEO of that company being able to continue in his job, and reap more money from being in that job, and then even more from going through a potential IPO?
How could you stomach him on TV, proudly ringing the bell of the NASDAQ or NYSE, as your daughter’s life will never be the same because of the abuse she has suffered?
Do you understand the shame she would feel everyday because of the violent attack and that she will bring this shame into every relationship she has from that time forward?
Would you think that a misdemeanor was the punishment to fit this particular crime?
I realize that I am writing about the emotions of this situation, so let’s address the business decision.
While I see that you are probably looking at this from the point of view as an investor, who so often has to exclude the personal from financial decisions that are made, I still don’t understand the rationale.
So many great investors talk about the importance of betting on the right entrepreneur, the founder whose values and integrity match the value of the mission that is being accomplished.
Is this CEO in that class of entrepreneurs? Is it worth sacrificing your own reputation, or the reputation of your firm in favor of the money and the stake?
I constantly think about what I want for my daughter as she grows up. First, I want her to find a passion, something she loves. But considering the field I come from, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I would want her to be a builder, in some way, shape or form. And I would love for her to find inspiration in the world that my husband and I have fallen in love with, technology.
Of late, however, I’m left wondering if the technology world has come as far as I thought it has when it comes to supporting women. There are now too many stories that make me wonder whether the innovation we so proudly tout in the faces of Wall Street, Hollywood and Washington D.C., has really extended to gender equality in this world.
I would think that investors, the people who are the backers, and sometimes builders, of these great companies, would lead us in the right direction when it comes to right vs. wrong. Even if that means losing a few dollars.
You see, I am afraid that this world is at risk of being a place where people are known to sacrifice ethics, and values, and sometimes genuine human decency in exchange for making money. This scares me, as does the fact that a violent, angry man is being left to prosper without full responsibility and retribution for his crimes.
I also wonder if perhaps you don’t own enough of the company to be able to oust the CEO and help him get the help he so desperately needs. If this is the case, I implore you to just speak up, and address the allegations.
But most of all, I hope you can sleep at night–knowing that there is someone who is one of your portfolio CEOs who can also inflict that type of extreme violence and battery on someone, whatever the circumstance might be.
I know that if I were in your position, I would suffer many sleepless nights to come.