Tuesday, 19 May 2015

I am an ousted CEO too

You’ve all no doubt heard about the case about the investors of housing.com oust the very founder of the company, Rahul Yadav. There must be a number of cases where similar things have happened to entrepreneurs who have sought investors to fund their fledgling start-ups. Now, I don’t presume to compare myself with Yadav in any way but…

Mine is one such story as well.



In September, 2013, three of my friends and I came up with an idea of starting up a news website for the students of the institute where we studied. We envisioned it as a platform for our fellow students to participate actively in the fields they were studying for. A practical approach to academics is what we brought our focus on when we thought up our web magazine.

Since we thought this up on the stairs of our institute, and involved the contribution of every one of our students, it was obvious that we were going to approach our management with this plan. We did so, and to our utter surprise obtained instant and enthusiastic support. We were asked to begin work immediately and submit requests for funding as and when required.

We were ecstatic and set up our website over eight months of planning, business model development, website designing and social media operations. Finally, out product was launched on the April 12, 2014 in the presence of the institute management and students. We had our own start up!

I assumed the role of Editor-in-chief, another co-founder as Chief Technical Executive and the other two co-founders as Editors of the two beats they excelled at. Although this selection does not seem fair, I must point out that the people in these posts were ratified by a general election within a week.
We ran the website with vigour and published 54 articles in the first two months of the launch alongside our hectic study schedule, assignments and internships. Some of our students even worked full time to support their education and even they contributed in one way or another to the initial success of this operation.

As in any other organization, we faced criticism, disgruntled employees and complaints relating to bias and prejudice. Although, all of these allegations were proved to be baseless time and again, these problems seemed to have an impact on the trust the management had placed on us and the morale of the entire team as well.

Decision-making ultimately passed to a representative of the investor (management) and although I still held editorial powers along with other editors, it became increasingly apparent that the democratic model upon which we had founded this organization was to come under fire from those who had deigned to finance it.

Finally, fed up with constant intrusions upon my sovereignty as Editor and decision making behind my back, I resigned from my post at the end of two months to allow for a new editor and pledged my support to the team if they needed it; albeit from outside. My resignation was rejected for reason I’m sure you can imagine and was told to maintain charge till they (management) could decide on someone to take my place and restructure the organization, placing their representative in overall charge.

Reluctantly, I withdrew my resignation in the interest of the magazine against my better judgement. But by then, the determination to lead controlled organization had left me and the team’s will to work had waned to the point that they refused work until the tie this matter was sorted out.

Two months of forced pieces and half-hearted work later, the management decided not to amend their mistakes but to make some more. They asked for my resignation in August, 2014, appointed their own Editor and asked the rest of the team to resign as well. They held a rigged election, refused to reveal the results and formed their own team against the wishes of the student body.

They rebelled.

Today, our organization lies, covered in dust, waiting for a new generation of students to shake the dust off what would have been a reputed student’s platform if only power hadn’t corrupted the investor.

Although complete in itself, this is still an excerpt of the whole case. You can read the full story here: The Story of an Ousted CEO