A Silicon Valley chief executive who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanour charges of domestic violence, with a further 45 felony charges dismissed by the court, has been fired by his board.
Gurbaksh Chahal was the head of RadiumOne, an online advertising network reportedly on course to raise $100m in an upcoming IPO, when he was charged with a series of counts of domestic violence.
The charges stem from a half-hour of security camera footage that, according to the criminal charges released, shows Chahal hitting, kicking, and attempting to suffocate his then girlfriend. The video was thrown out of court under the fourth amendment, with Chahal's lawyers successfully arguing that it was illegally seized by police.
After a post on Gawker's Valleywag blog brought Chahal's charges and guilty plea to wider attention, many began to call for RadiumOne to do something about its CEO.
Publishing firm Conde Nast, which had been reported as a partner of the company, distanced itself from RadiumOne and Chahal, telling AdAge that it "is not and has never been an investor in or partner of RadiumOne." It added that Conde's British subsidiary had a vendor relationship with the firm, but that it was "reviewing its association".
On Sunday, Chahal attempted to quell the flames with a blogpost in which he laid out his side of the story. Headlined "Can you handle the truth?", the post denies accusations that he hit his then-girlfriend 117 times, and that he injured her or caused her trauma. But Chahal said little about the wider charges, other than adding that "I lost my temper. I understand, accept full responsibility and sincerely apologise from the bottom of my heart for that…
"I was charged with 45 felony counts of domestic violence. All of those charges were dropped, and ultimately the case settled when the DA’s office recognised they had no case and offered me a misdemeanour plea. I accepted that plea, because after a lot of soul searching I believed I was acting in the best interest of my company, my employees, my customers, my family, my friends and my investors."
But at the same time, the RadiumOne board was deciding to take action. On Monday morning, Chahal confirmed that a special meeting had been called, where "they asked for my resignation as chairman and CEO, when I declined to do, they fired me…
"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 supporting your CEO during the tough times knowing the truth?"
For some, Chahal's actions, and subsequent dismissal, raise uncomfortable questions about the technology sector. Newsweek's Rusty Foster says that "technology is an industry infested with entitled men who are allowed to say and do anything they please without any consequences."
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