It is hard to know where to start in this astonishingly vehement account that RadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal just posted on his personal site, titled “Can You Handle the Truth?,” in which he defends himself from charges of domestic violence.
In it, after noting that he has gotten “death threats,” he adamantly defends himself against the allegations by police that he violently hit his girlfriend during a fight they had in his San Francisco luxury apartment; calls the district attorneys pursuing the case “a pack of rabid dogs”; and notes that “I want to make it abundantly clear that I abhor violence of any kind, most especially against women.”
Chahal has a hard-charging reputation as a leader inside the advertising tech company — many I have interviewed call it “bullying,” while others said he is simply typical of an aggressive entrepreneur. With this post, he is exhibiting just these characteristics in very obvious ways.
It also shows very much a level of extreme grandiosity that every single person I spoke with involved with RadiumOne noted about Chahal. “Celebrities in sports, entertainment and business, and high net worth individuals in general are all potential targets,” he wrote. “It was only a matter of time when I would fall prey.”
In perhaps the most problematic part of the post, he also claimed he lost his temper because his girlfriend, Juliet Kakish, was “having unprotected sex for money with other people.” (Presumably, there are PR people who objected to this she’s-loose-and-it-made-me-real-angry meme, because calling a woman a whore while saying you abhor violence against women is a rather large disconnect.)
In any case, as odd as both those statements read, his I-am-the-victim-here declaration also underscores one very loud and clear message: Chahal is not planning on stepping down as CEO of RadiumOne.
“As CEO of RadiumOne, I vow to make it a hugely successful company, a great place to work, and a wonderful partner in the community,” he wrote. Others are not so sure, with businesses — including media giant Condé Nast — reconsidering use of RadiumOne’s real-time bidding products.
Whether he has to or not is unclear. According to numerous sources, as the company’s major shareholder, as well as a director and chairman of the board, Chahal has the ability to control all key decisions made at the company.
There has been no statement from the rest of the RadiumOne board — four other members, including COO Bill Lonergan — as yet. We’ll see if they do speak, but it is clear Chahal is in charge here, for better or worse.
As I wrote yesterday, the rest of the Radium board members have been meeting to discuss what to do about the situation that has rapidly escalated in the public after he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors of battery and domestic violence. That followed charges that also included 45 felony counts against him alleging even more egregious acts of violence.
The criminal complaint includes charges that he hit Kakish in the head and body repeatedly, covered her mouth and obstructed her breathing, and threatened to kill her. After initially calling 911 and talking to police, Kakish ended her cooperation with authorities for reasons that remain unclear.
She is still not talking, although Chahal is certainly talking for her:
“The girl in question here, was herself so appalled by the false allegations made by the police, that she agreed to be photographed to demonstrate that there were no bruises or injuries. She could have left my apartment at any time during the argument. She felt safe and chose to stay. Those pictures she agreed to take would have been entered into evidence had my case proceeded, and they would have proven that the police claims were egregiously misleading.”
Law enforcement officials have said a video of the incident exists that shows a 30-minute assault, containing 117 acts of violence. But it was thrown out by a judge due to Fourth Amendment rights around its seizure.
Because of that, many thought Chahal had gotten off easy on a technicality and have called for his resignation — and worse — as well as the release of the video.
Still, Chahal dismissed the contents of the surveillance video — which has not been released — but did not include it in the posting. (It is not clear, although taken in his home, whether he can or not and he did not say one way or another in the post. On Twitter, in response to a question, he said he did not have it in his possession.)
But he trashed the video in the post. “The tape in question that was thrown was also bullshit,” he said. “If anything, it actually made the SFPD look bad because they violently assaulted me as I opened my door despite my being fully cooperative.”
In other words, Chahal is saying it was the police who were the violent ones and he only lost his temper. Oh, and he also blames the “bloggers” for the mess too.
Chahal was the initial angel investor for RadiumOne in late 2009 and is a major shareholder. He then raised close to $34 million from four VC firms: Crosslink Capital, Adams Street Partners, Trinity Ventures and DFJ Esprit. The investment was not a surprise — Chahal scored a big win when he sold his last ad startup, BlueLithium, to Yahoo in 2007 for $300 million. And, given the current ad tech landscape, there have been plans for a $100 million IPO of RadiumOne next year.
That is all at risk now, as many partners assess what to do about the situation and all the negative media heat around Chahal.
Presumably, the real test in this truly dramatic situation would be the release of the video. Perhaps that will be the next shoe to drop.
Until then, one of the key graphs of many:
“I want you to know that this is not an excuse. I know that intimate partner violence is never excusable under any circumstances. I recognize that my temper got the better of me, and I will regret that for the rest of my life. But there is a difference between temper and domestic violence, and the truth of what actually happened is no where close to what the police claimed nor anywhere near what the online chatter and pundits are now making it out to be. I have two sisters, a niece and a mother. I love them all to death, and would never want any harm to ever come their way.”
But that’s not all, so read it in its entirety below, because — like Chahal or not — this is the equivalent of his day in the court of public opinion:
Can You Handle the Truth?
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Right now there are many people calling for my head. I am the recipient of death threats and hateful language aimed not just at what I was accused of, but attacking me for my ethnicity, my social class, and even my gender. Many would gladly lynch me based because of my origin — and not the facts of my case.
I know that I cannot change the minds of those who choose to hate me without cause — and base their hate only on the misrepresentations they have read, but I hope that others will be open minded and give me the opportunity to tell my story and paint a broader and very different picture.
Before I begin, I want to make it abundantly clear that I abhor violence of any kind, most especially against women. I created a foundation to fight hate crimes. I consider intimate partner violence and domestic violence in that same category.
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 recognized they had no case and offered me a misdemeanor 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.
I fully understand the outrage of those who believe I got off “lightly” as asserted by numerous postings on social media sites. But the $500 fine I agreed to pay, the equivalent of a speeding ticket, is simply what those misdemeanors require, and in no way reflects the toll that this ordeal has exacted on me. There can be no dollar value placed on the pain and suffering I have caused my family and friends, my employees and customers my investors, and everyone else who has looked up to me in the past. The humiliation and shame I feel is immeasurable. The dollar cost to my business and my reputation is incalculable.
I could have spent another year fighting the charges against me, which I truly wanted to do for my family’s sake. I would have prevailed in this fight because the allegations by police against me were overblown and grossly exaggerated. They made good press, but quite literally, they did not hold up in court.
I want you to know that this is not an excuse. I know that intimate partner violence is never excusable under any circumstances. I recognize that my temper got the better of me, and I will regret that for the rest of my life. But there is a difference between temper and domestic violence, and the truth of what actually happened is no where close to what the police claimed nor anywhere near what the online chatter and pundits are now making it out to be. I have two sisters, a niece and a mother. I love them all to death, and would never want any harm to ever come their way.
The situation that resulted in my legal case began when I discovered that my girlfriend was having unprotected sex for money with other people. (She testified to this in her interviews with the cops.) I make no excuse for losing my temper. When I discovered this fact and confronted my girlfriend, we had a normal argument. She called 9-11 after I told her I was going to contact her father regarding her activities. And yes, I lost my temper. I understand, accept full responsibility and sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart for that. But I didn’t hit her 117 times, injure her, or cause any trauma as the UCSF medical reports clearly document. This was all overblown drama because it generates huge volumes of page views for the media given what I have accomplished in the valley.
The tape in question that was thrown was also bullshit. If anything, it actually made the SFPD look bad because they violently assaulted me as I opened my door despite my being fully cooperative.
The girl in question here, was herself so appalled by the false allegations made by the police, that she agreed to be photographed to demonstrate that there were no bruises or injuries. She could have left my apartment at any time during the argument. She felt safe and chose to stay. Those pictures she agreed to take would have been entered into evidence had my case proceeded, and they would have proven that the police claims were egregiously misleading.
Celebrities in sports, entertainment and business, and high net worth individuals in general are all potential targets. It was only a matter of time when I would fall prey.
I have to accept that many will still want to hate me no matter what I say to bring clarity to my legal case which is now over. But the fact of the matter is that they are jumping to conclusions based on falsified allegations. My case could not have settled in the way that it did if the allegations were true. Trust me, the DA’s were like a pack of rabid dogs coming after me. If they had a case, they would have stuck with it.
I only hope for two things: first that people who I work so hard to inspire are not discouraged by the false allegations and blogosphere spins, and, secondly, I hope others who are not in my shoes — and who have jumped on the bandwagon of criticism against me after the conclusion of my legal proceedings — will be open minded and give me the opportunity to tell them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
I apologize to my family, my friends, employees, my customers and my investors all who have suffered from this bad publicity related to my personal matter. I have learned a lot from this experience, and I will continue to grow. As CEO of RadiumOne, I vow to make it a hugely successful company, a great place to work, and a wonderful partner in the community.
I’ve always wanted the best for others. I have been a tireless fighter against hate crimes through my Foundation, and a huge supporter of education through my scholarship funds. What I am proudest of in my success thus far in life is that I have created jobs and opportunities for people, while building commerce and strengthening our community. Actions speak louder than words, and it is these actions, not the false allegations and spins that you might have read through these various blogs shine light on my real character, on the person I truly am and always want to be.
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.