Score one for human decency: Silicon Valley ad-tech firm RadiumOne has fired its founder, CEO, and chairman, Gurbaksh Chahal, thanks to the uproar over his recent domestic abuse case. The company’s board of directors voted to terminate him in a meeting last night, according to an official statement.
Chahal faced 45 felony counts after he was arrested and charged with beating his girlfriend this past summer. Police reportedly obtained home security footage that showed the millionaire entrepreneur striking her 117 times in a half hour. But after the girlfriend chose not to cooperate and a judge tossed the tape on Fourth Amendment grounds, prosecutors offered Chahal a slap-on-the-wrist deal. He ultimately pleaded guilty last week to a pair of misdemeanor battery charges that carried no jail time.
As outrage over the case grew and high-profile customers, including Condé Nast, began distancing themselves from RadiumOne, the board appears to have decided it needed to cut Chahal loose. At Re/code, Kara Swisher reports that he "did not step down or offer to."
He certainly isn’t showing a great deal of remorse. Earlier today, Chahal published a long and grandiose self-defense, in which he painted himself as the (relatively) innocent victim of a witch hunt by prosecutors and traffic-hungry bloggers. Calling the police’s video evidence “bullshit,” Chahal wrote that he simply “lost” his “temper” after discovering that his girlfriend “was having unprotected sex for money with other people.” (Calling your ex a prostitute: classy.) He also claims he “didn’t hit her 117 times, injure her, or cause any trauma,” and that she only called 911 after he threatened to tell her father about her “activities.” Finally, he dabs his tears with a big, old American flag:
What is the American Dream? That you can come from nothing and make something of yourself not once, not twice but three times, only to have all of it come crashing down from misinformation, that is spun wildly out of control into the world of make believe and then goes viral into the blogosphere. We need to hold on to the American Dream, and reject those who would rather make it a nightmare.
Our Founding Fathers believed in the dream, why not the bloggers.
So in short, Chahal’s story is that he only "lost his temper"—whatever the hell that means—because his girlfriend was (allegedly) sleeping around. Oh, and Thomas Jefferson. Take note, PR pros. This guy has moves.
In the meantime, RadiumOne has to figure out its next steps. While Chahal may no longer be running the show, he still owns a substantial share of the company. Which, as Digiday’s Brian Morrissey points out, means that any success the firm enjoys will still end up enriching a guy who, no matter what his ex post facto explanation might be, admitted in court to beating a woman. Suffice to say, some clients and employees might be a bit uncomfortable with that thought.