Rahul Yadav: Start-up genius with a brash bent of mind
The enfant terrible of startups, Rahul Yadav dropped out of IIT, Mumbai in his final year in 2011. His brash confrontation in quitting as Housing.com CEO in an angry, publicised mail is now part of startup folklore.business Updated: Jul 02, 2015 13:23 IST
Former CEO of Housing.com Rahul Yadav, is known as a maverick who along with a few of his friends from IIT-Bombay, is credited with building one of India's largest and most innovative real estate search platform.
The difficulty in searching for accommodations in a city like Mumbai spurred them to build the platform that lists properties submitted by users, either brokers or owners, on an interactive map.
Rahul, who dropped out of IIT in his final year in 2011, spotted and then exploited a huge opportunity in the real estate search portal, making Housing.com one of the largest in that bracket. The global house hunting platform has 11 million monthly visitors and raised $120 million in four rounds of funding so far.
On Wednesday, Housing.com, backed by a glittering clutch of global investors, summarily fired Yadav, evidently displeased with his attitude and public tantrums that overpowered his talent and technology skills. Sacking Yadav, a statement from the board said it believed that his behaviour is not befitting of a CEO and is detrimental to the company.
Not many know that Rahul, who is from Rajasthan's Alwar, topped the state in his Class 12 board exams and got a scholarship to prepare for the IIT-JEE. He was selected to be the class representative in his second year at IIT and went on to become the secretary of its student association.
The reason that gave birth to this massive business also makes for an interesting read. At IIT, as part of his election manifesto, he had to create a question bank from old exam papers and this is what ignited the technopreneurial bug and helped him build the popular Exambaba.com –- a website that had scanned copies of question papers of previous years.
Exambaba.com was just the beginning of his genius entrepreneurial journey. Rahul then went ahead for a brief internship in Israel and returned to build apps for Google Chrome before he founded Housing.com.
Yadav's tenure over the last quarter is one of corporate intrigue in the age of social media. His earlier ugly confrontation in quitting as Housing.com CEO in an angry, publicised mail is now part of start-up folklore.
The 26-year-old, whose future was being speculated keenly on social media became an anti-hero icon for the generation of entrepreneurs, had in a mail in April publicly described his investors as "intellectually incapable of any discussion". He later withdrew his resignation, apologising for his statement.
Yadav then went on to relinquish all his shares, worth Rs 150-200 crore to the 2,251 employees as a gift, in a bid to put his mission ahead of his money. He had also, in a Reddit chat, asked CEOs of startups such as Zomato and OlaCabs to give up their shares, in an act of daring that only spewed controversy.
He was already in the news since March when he wrote a scathing letter to Sequoia India's Shailendra Singh accusing him of poaching employees. In the mail, Yadav had threatened Singh, who had declined to fund the start-up, to "vacate the best of your firm". The letter was then leaked to Quora.
Yadav was again drawn into another controversy when he sent an internal mail to his employees saying that MagicBricks (owned by Times group) was maligning Housing.com while raising funds.
He challenged Ola's Bhavish Aggarwal and Zomato's Deepinder Goyal to also give away half of their shares to employees. He was involved with Goyal in a feud on social media saying that it was "a company scanning menus from last 7 years and doing no innovation".
Yadav had fired another controversy after he posted a picture of Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka sleeping at an airport lounge.
Most recently, Yadav told his staff, in an internal note which was leaked, that he had fed journalists with two sets of information regarding a possible acquisition of his company by Quikr.
In his characteristic brash way, he did not seem even slightly bothered by his sacking and hours after being fired, he took to Facebook to make his feelings very clearly known.
"[In a nutshell] Board: CEO title of Housing.com. Take that away then what are you? Me: A Genius Billionaire (in INR) Philanthropist."
"If something doesn't exist, build it yourself, and if it doesn't work, move on," an adage Rahul firmly seems to live by.