Gurbaksh Chahal Fires at RadiumOne Board With Legal Threat Over Wrongful Termination
In a post titled “An Open Letter to the Board of RadiumOne: Greed, Betrayal, Dishonesty,” ousted CEO Gurbaksh Chahal has threatened legal action against the company and its directors. He apparently resigned from the board earlier this week.
“It’s clear to my counsel and I, that I was wrongfully terminated,” he wrote in yet another highly charged letter from the highly charged entrepreneur. “You have left me with no other options but to seek legal recourse. And, now will have to face severe legal consequences individually for this in the court of law.”
So far, the company has not received his lawsuit or any other communication, said a RadiumOne spokesperson in a statement, and stands by its firing of him:
“While we have not seen Chahal’s complaint of wrongful termination, such a complaint would be without merit. Gurbaksh Chahal’s own actions impaired his ability to lead RadiumOne as CEO and gave the board no choice but to terminate his employment and name a new CEO.”
Chahal, who founded the San Francisco-based advertising tech company, was fired in late April, related to the controversy sparked by his guilty plea to two misdemeanors for battery and domestic violence related to an incident involving his girlfriend at his San Francisco apartment. Chahal did not step down or offer to resign, as is noted below.
At the time Chahal posted a vehement defense on his website, in which he denied the disturbing charges that has resulted in a major public debate over his behavior and how a company should deal with it.
In several adamant and sometimes bizarre blogs and tweets, which were later taken down, his post also blamed the police, bloggers and pretty much everyone else. Not so much himself; Chahal essentially called his girlfriend a prostitute in the post.
He has also taken to Twitter tonight to blame me, too, as well as several others, and seems to enjoy calling us “drama queens.” He’d know.
Here is Chahal’s post it in its entirety:
To the Board of Directors of RadiumOne:
As you all know, I resigned from the board of directors on Tuesday. In light of recent events and to stay transparent and forthright, you give me no other vehicle than an open letter to communicate adequately.
I am deeply disappointed by your actions and decisions over the last few weeks.
All of you were well aware of the legal matter I had been struggling with since August, just as you were aware that of the exaggerated allegations against me. You supported me from the beginning both in person and in writing, and you made it clear that you had every intention of standing by me until justice prevailed.
In August 2013, when this incident first arose, I even suggested Bill Lonergan to take over as CEO while I battle to clear my name and you were against that idea. You gave me your full support, confirming that I was still the best person to lead the Company. So, I continued to honor my commitment to you and to grow the company.
In my effort to maintain full transparency, I kept you abreast of my case. I was always forthright and honest during our conversations, text messages, emails, and board meetings.
Soon enough, the potential for an IPO for RadiumOne became a reality, and in December we started meeting with banks. We even created an IPO sub-committee, which was tasked with submitting a progress report every two weeks.
Since my case was still in limbo, it became the main roadblock holding our company back from an impending IPO. The legal process was slow, and my case was still in the early stage. We agreed to keep moving forward with the IPO plans including hiring an IPO consultant.
Given the timing of an IPO, you began suggesting that I should not try for full exoneration with a trial, since that could take a year or more and disrupt the timing and IPO process. One approach involved getting the case to a misdemeanor plea so that we could resolve the case and focus on the IPO. You communicated this to me during several board meetings, emails, as well as conversations with my counsel.
By April, after the first settlement conference and preliminary hearing, my legal team was able to get a misdemeanor plea that was satisfactory to both the RadiumOne board and the bankers. You were well aware that if I had gone to trial I would have gotten full exoneration. Instead, I sacrificed full exoneration for the sake of the Company’s IPO, and — more importantly — for you and for our shareholders.
On our board meeting of Tuesday, April 22nd, with only a week to go before the IPO bake-off, I told all of you that my personal matter had been resolved. Everyone was very happy with the outcome, as evidenced by various congratulatory gestures.
The next day, I was practically lynched on social media when the local press began covering the news. Everyone seemed fixated on the initial allegations made by the DA, which were false. The decision to accept the misdemeanor plea to end this case, instead of going to trial, was proving ineffective. This was the first wave of the social media lynching.
Robin Murray told me to stay calm, to ignore the press, and to focus on the bake-off and the IPO. However, On Friday morning, with the story going viral, Robin and David Silverman made a house call to see if I would consider resigning. They said they “couldn’t handle all the bad press.” This came shortly after full support — both in written remarks in emails and on calls from them less than 48 hours ago.
I declined the request to resign. Later that day, the board called for an emergency board meeting for Saturday evening. At the advice of my counsel and of the company counsel — I wrote to remind you that I had simply taken this plea as a strategic move for the company and for the IPO, as you had instructed me to do so.
It’s clear to my counsel and I, that I was wrongfully terminated. When I offered to resign in August, I instead received the board’s full support to stay on as the “rainmaker,” the key visionary to take the Company forward and eventually public. There is no documentation in the history of the Company to indicate that there was any dissatisfaction with my performance as the Chairman & CEO. It was praise — in every board meeting — for my performance.
I know you have your individual careers in mind, but I am shocked and saddened at how you responded to social media. I was going through hell, both professionally and personally (my father had just had another heart-attack brought on largely by this incident). I thought I could count on your support as a board, as executives, and as a team and you abandoned me when I most needed your support. And what did I do to deserve this, when all I’ve ever done is to put the interests of you and the Company ahead of my own?
You are the team that I relied on and that helped me build the company to where it is today. I never took a salary at RadiumOne. I put my heart, soul, and millions of dollars of my own money into launching the Company. I always thought it would be better to create jobs rather than to pay myself a CEO salary. In exchange, you offered me an option grant. Now, as part of my abrupt departure, not only are you withholding that, but now you’re also trying to figure out other ways dilute my holdings at RadiumOne further.
I sincerely hope you wake up from this greed, betrayal, and dishonesty.
You have left me with no other options but to seek legal recourse. And, now will have to face severe legal consequences individually for this in the court of law.
All supporting documents relating to the facts of this letter have been sent to the press and my legal counsel.