Rahul Yadav, CEO of Housing.com, has constantly hogged the headlines, mostly for the wrong reasons.
Then he decided to resign and was again harsh, this time on his investors. "Don’t think you guys are intellectually capable enough to have any sensible discussion anymore," he said in an email.
He later withdrew his resignation, and then surprised the tech community when he announced that he was giving away his entire shareholding to employees of Housing. He then proceeded to challenge Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal and OlaCabs' CEO Bhavish Aggarwal to give away atleast half their shares. That prompted Goyal to refer to him as Arvind Kejriwal of startups.
Today, he took on questions on all topics - from his resignation, to Sequoia Capital, Zomato and OlaCabs — in a freewheeling 'Ask Me Anything' session on Reddit. Here are excerpts of his candid, and at times hard-hitting responses. Usernames have been included with each question, wherever possible.
zturtle: With due respect to your achievements, do you think you actions are going to be harmful for young entrepreneurs as VC's might now believe young indians can't handle success.
I think the market should wait before passing a judgment on whether I am helpful or harmful for the young entrepreneurs.
surajdhami: If you are here to solve a problem then why did you want to quit before solving it?
It was just a well calculated tactical move.
parageek: Okay I really need to get hired by Housing. What exactly should I do besides stalking you and your friend's facebook profiles and bombarding their mailboxes with multiple resumes?
Drop me an email at rahul[at]housing[dot]com with the subject 'Why you should hire me' and explain it in just 3 lines.
daftmatrix: Not much to ask but 1) do you lurk r/india? 2) Is the zomato ceo really a d-bag? 3) Is it possible to chill out with you in real life? dont know many interesting people so would be cool to hangout with a guy who has a huge start up maybe learn a thing or two.
1.No. I was introduced by a friend. 2. I really don't know him much but his sense of humour sucks. 3. I leave for office at 10am and come back by 10pm. So I really don't get time to chill out!
woccamrazor#gamer: What is your opinion about Deepinder Goyal and Zomato?
A company scanning menus from last 7 years and doing no innovation. And the CEO says 'Aww. So cute.'
ola_bhavesh: If you are given a chance to redo OLA, what will you do?
I will never do Ola because that problem was already solved by UBER and in a brilliant way. I'll never do a me-too thing and waste my life.
neoronin: Don't you feel that your efforts should be more concrete in building an image that is fitting of a CEO of a growing organization instead of indulging in unnecessary shenanigans? Since when did abusive language become a part of corporate communications?
I think whatever issues I have raised are very important for the Indian startup ecosystem. The way boundaries between emails and chats are fading, I see professional diplomacy and frank conversations merging together. That's the future of conversation: quick and efficient.
onepointsixkmdavis: Do you think your actions are distracting for your employees? Do you think startups in India are currently overvalued? Do you think it is indicative of a bubble? How long do you see these valuations lasting?
Yes, it is distracting. But it's actually fun if it's there only for a few weeks. Beyond that, it's really distracting and does not help. Indian market is an elephant. It's gonna run/grow slowly. People/companies with patience over a period of 5-10 years will be able to leverage the opportunity. Companies which will survive in this period, for them the current valuations are nothing, given the opportunity size.
bornin86: Your arrogance and attitude shows that you are the only savior left in the world and without you the world of housing was dying?
Even the US market players (zillow, trulia etc) have not really solved the problem. Yes we do think that we are the best bet to solve this problem. Arrogance and attitude comes when people poke and distract us from solving this problem.
iHEx4Sex: What was the deal with Sequoia Capital? For science, Can you tell us what 'other bad things' were you referring to in your email to the VC?
We decided a slided deal between 10-15% (depending on performance)for 1mn$. After 2 months of due diligence, when they realised we were running out money, they said they want to do a flat equity deal. I said ‘Okay. Let’s do it at 12.5%. They said 14.75%. When I requested more, they said “Let’s not waste each others’ time.” We were left with no option.
I came to know they have done it with lots of other ventures (TFS, Ola, Dexetra, LetsBuy..)
So to cut it short, I think they’re culturally a very cutthroat VC and sometimes I think that’s why they’re more successful than others. But I still condemn their practises because I feel they’re inhuman and for me, people are the ‘why’ for everything I do.
why_reddit: Along with verified photos can we also have the legal status of an apartment?
Cases like camapa cola where occupany certificate was not provided by government will not happen if the buyer is aware of it.
On it! We just acquired a legal and due-diligence company, they are working on cross checking all new projects that are on Housing's platform.
redweddingsareawesom: Why do you claim to have beaten Common Floor and Magicbricks based on site visits and app downloads? Aren't they bullshit metrics?
Yes I believe these are really bullshit metrics. But the market (brokers, builders, investors, media) somehow cares about all these things. And perception matters. So unfortunately, we have to play by THIS (India) market's rules.
takatakha: Why did you decide to drop out of IITB in your final year?
I think I mentally dropped out of IIT in 2nd year. Physically in my 4th year. And on papers, I think I’m still an IITB student. :)
Do you think investors your back your next startup after all the controversies?
I think they will but it really doesn't matter.
iamMNG: Would you ever be a VC? ;)
I don't like money at rest. Putting money to work is very important. And I'll keep doing so in whatever roles/formats are right at the moment.
srinjoy: What are some startups you are personally following and love what they are doing?
Uber and Twitter, slick products solving big problems.
hey_imhere: Are you afraid of anything or do you think what others think or write about you?
Perception matters and does have impact on your success but i think i can handle all these things smoothly. So not really afraid.
amitseoji: Can you create even 1% of housing.com without funding from VC?
I can create 100% of housing but then it will be a different type of housing. You can always create business without money, sometimes it can be slow, sometimes it can be really hard but its never impossible.
ssasmisltlywll: In another comment you mentioned that you detest how most start-ups are validated and copied ideas. Isn't flipkart one too?
They have earned respect in terms of implementation and execution and not because of the idea.
avinassh: Why Indian companies hardly allow remote? Why Indian companies hardly contribute to open source? Indian startups/companies are always stereotyped as having bad security practises. Do Indian companies really ignore security practises?
Work ethics in India is a big issue. I like how professionally Americans work. There're issues with employers and also with employees. It's an ecosystem problem. We Indians do not have the luxury. We are always working hard to have the basic things for ourselves. The same is true for the Indian companies as well. Our tech team has complete freedom and they have their own culture as well. And they actively do contribute from time to time. One of our co-founders, Neeraj Bhunwal sleeps, eats and breathes open source! Indian companies are built in hurry to capture the market. So some critical pieces are often missed out.