Ashneer Grover Controversy: Timeline: Ashneer Grover's fortnight to forget – The Economic Times
Ashneer Grover Controversy: Timeline: Ashneer Grover’s fortnight to forget – The Economic Times
ETtech BharatPe’s cofounder and MD Ashneer Grover. “I have seen this problem in some of the prominent founders in India. It is called the God Syndrome,” says the founder of a leading startup who has known Ashneer Grover for over a decade.
“Are you really surprised? He’s always been like this. The only difference is, this time, it’s out in public,” a mid-level executive, who recently left BharatPe , told ET, when asked about Grover’s working style.
On Wednesday, the cofounder and managing director of BharatPe, went on voluntary leave until the end of March. The move was brought on by a now-deleted audio clip that purportedly featured him admonishing a Kotak Mahindra Bank employee over the phone for missing out on financing for Nykaa’s IPO last year.
In the two weeks since, things have gone only south for the former investment banker. Here’s a timeline of the events that led to his “voluntary leave of absence”.
January 6 — ‘The audio clip is fake’: Grover says an audio-clip circulating on social media, which allegedly has him talking to a bank executive, is fake . He claims “some scamster” is trying to extort $240,000 in Bitcoins from him using this clip.
“Folks. Chill! It’s a FAKE audio by some scamster trying to extort funds (US$ 240K in bitcoins). I refused to buckle. I’ve got more character. And Internet has got enough scamsters :),” his tweet read. January 8 — Grover deletes tweet: Since the audio clip has been taken off Twitter and SoundCloud, he has deleted his tweet too , the BharatPe cofounder tells ET. There was no point keeping the tweet anymore on his Twitter profile, he says.
January 9 — Kotak Mahindra Bank steps in: Grover and his Madhuri Grover sent a legal notice to Kotak Mahindra Bank on Oct. 31, 2021, for failing to provide financing in Nykaa’s IPO, it emerges. The bank says it will take “appropriate legal action” against Grover.
January 17 — Past run-ins with Sequoia: An email exchange between Ashneer Grover and Sequoia India’s Harshjit Sethi from August 2020 surface, in which the BharatPe cofounder allegedly used expletives over the course of the conversation.
“Messages and threats from you (Grover) over the last few days and months have been hurtful and disappointing… Specifically we have heard your message of not wanting us on the cap table […] We need to have a decisive conversation about how the relationship between Sequoia and BharatPe changes going forward,” Sethi wrote in an email to Grover in August 2020. Also Read: The new rage in startup town
January 19 — Grover goes on leave: The BharatPe cofounder decides to go on voluntary leave until the end of March, amid a growing controversy over his alleged behaviour.
“After much deliberation and introspection, I plan to take temporary leave of absence from BharatPe till March end. I will return on or before April 1, 2022,” he says in a statement on LinkedIn . “I expect to spend the time thinking more deeply about our next phase of product development, and BharatPe’s path to profitability and IPO.” Past controversies
Grover is no stranger to controversy.
In a report detailing BharatPe’s partnership with 44-year-old NBFC Centrum Finance to acquire a banking licence in July 2021, ET, citing sources, said the company’s investors were not comfortable with Grover’s “mercurial” style of leadership.
By August 2021, he had been made managing director at BharatPe, with recent hire Suhail Sameer taking on the role of chief executive . That was after New York-based investor Tiger Global came on board as part of a $370-million round .
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