Tech mogul Gurbaksh Chahal has been fired from his post as CEO of RadiumOne after he pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges and boycotts started to mount.
Sunday that the board meeting where the decision was made went late into the night, and the members ultimately decided that company COO Bill Lonergan would replace Chahal at the helm of the $100-million-a-year media buying software corporation.
Chahal was allegedly caught on tape beating his girlfriend for roughly a half hour, striking her 117 times in his San Francisco luxury apartment. He was originally charged with 45 felony counts, but after the woman refused to cooperate with police and the judge barred the evidence for breach of the Fourth Amendment, Chahal ultimately pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges of battery. His sentence included no jail time.
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Many Silicon Valley insiders seem to feel the firing was better late than never, but lamented that it appeared to take a community outcry and boycott to get the board to do something.
The day before the firing, prominent tech columnist Kara Swisher wrote
that, "the board of RadiumOne has been silent as the proverbial grave, making no statement and taking no immediate action after Chahal’s guilty plea. Many have taken the board’s silence to mean its members will not do anything or are dithering in the face of an obvious crisis."
Influential Valley blog TechCrunch announced
Sunday that they were dropping RadiumOne as a sponsor of its Disrupt New York event because Chahal was still head of the company, kicking off what could have easily become a widespread boycott of the brand.
"[W]e simply couldn’t sleep at night knowing that we were supporting and promoting a company led by someone who does not share our values on the issue of domestic abuse," the editors wrote. "In this decision our team is united, both on the editorial and the business side. We will not condone, support, or deal with proven bad actors in our community. Their business is not welcome on our pages, at our hackathons or at our events."
Chahal has repeatedly denied that he hit his girlfriend 117 times, writing in a blog post that he was upset with her and they did have a dispute because she was "having unprotected sex for money with other people."
He goes on to say, "I didn’t hit her 117 times, injure her, or cause any trauma as the UCSF medical reports clearly document . . . 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 . . . 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."
The boycott of RadiumOne and Chahal comes just weeks after Mozilla Firefox CEO Brendan Eich was forced out of his new position after employees and influential Valley personalities voiced their discomfort with a donation he made to a political organization opposed to same-sex marriage. Not long after that, there was an outcry against former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after she joined the board of Dropbox.
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