The return of the prodigal son

Rahul Yadav and ten others founded Housing.com from their hostel rooms at IIT-Bombay.
Image © Analytics India Magazine
Listen to this story

In May 2022, news broke that Info Edge has been incrementally investing in Housing.com’s Rahul Yadav prop-tech startup, Broker Network. Through its subsidiary Allcheckdeals India (ACD), Info Edge invested INR 9 crore in February 2021, INR 18 crore in December 2021, and INR 137.12 crore in March 2022 in Broker Network’s parent company 4B Networks. As per Info Edge, the majority holding in 4B will help ACD strengthen its real estate offering.

This is indeed an interesting turn of events, given the two parties involved. In 2015, Rahul snubbed Naukri.com’s founder Sanjeev Bikhchandani in an interview quoting Bill Gates (businesses have the responsibility to solve the world’s problems). He said Sanjeev solved the Naukri.com problem to a certain level. The company opened new businesses to gain more market share and money, and never took initiatives to address industry or consumer problems.

THE BELAMY

Sign up for your weekly dose of what's up in emerging technology.

Sanjeev is the founder and executive vice-chairman of Info Edge which owns Naukri.com. Who would have thought the same Sanjeev would hold 57.16 percent of 4B Networks?

Booted from home turf

Rahul and ten others founded Housing.com from their hostel rooms at IIT-Bombay. Yadav served as the company’s CEO from its inception in 2012 until his dismissal in July 2015.

Rahul resigned as CEO on April 30, 2015, after writing a scathing email to investors, questioning their intellect.

However, he apologised and withdrew his resignation in less than a week. Ten days later, the bad boy of the Indian startup ecosystem distributed his personal shares worth approximately INR 150-200 crore to the company’s 2,251 employees. He then dared Zomato’s Deepinder Goyal and Bhavish Aggarwal to do the same. 

To this, Deepinder Goyal said, “Aww, so cute,” while Bhavish replied, “Give that man a cookie.”

Rahul launched into VCs calling them clueless. He said SoftBank promised to let Housing.com double down on increasing supply and not bother them on revenue and profitability. But later Softbank reneged, and the focus shifted to revenues and profits. He alleged Indian VCs force businesses to burn money and then pull the trigger.

Rahul Yadav reportedly spent INR 120 crore on a marketing campaign before he was fired. According to reports, Housing.com was bleeding money. However, the young CEO believed the company was on the right track.

All publicity is good publicity

On March 6, 2015, Rahul Yadav ripped into Shailendra Singh, the managing director of Sequoia India. The post addressed Singh as “Dude”.

The entrepreneur even shared a photo of former Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka sleeping in an airport lounge on his Facebook page.

This picture was captioned, “Infosys CEO Sikka. When I asked something, he replied, “I just want to sleep” without listening to the question :D.”

Of the lot, his odd social media war with the Times group was the most hilarious. Close on the heels of a Times article on how Rahul is misguiding the journalists and spreading rumours, he posted a still from the movie Jurassic World, hinting how tameable the media was.

He followed it up with another post on Facebook.

Yadav’s firing had been a long time coming, thanks to his run-ins with his own investors, startups, and the press. In fact, the board characterised his behaviour as not “befitting” of a CEO and “detrimental” to the company’s future.

Lessons learnt

A year after his termination, Rahul spoke about the lessons he learned from the fiasco.

First, he acknowledged his lack of emotional quotient. Rahul said he was restless and hyper and expected everyone to be like him, ignoring they had a life beyond work.

Secondly, he believes Housing.com scaled too fast and would have been better off cracking one market at a time. He said the company should have focused on profitability from the start.

Third, he realised he should have concentrated on the renting model rather than dabbling with ideas like property buying and selling.

Finally, he said the 80 percent dilution in two and a half years in the name of growth was a stupid move made. 

In 2019, he admitted to his immature behaviour. He said being a single point of authority made him act with impunity. He said leaders tend to get delusional and take wrong calls. 

Interestingly, one of the investors he approached suggested he get into a relationship to keep him married. Rahul took his advice and got married. “Now I realise what empathy is, that other perspectives should also be taken into account,” he said.

More Great AIM Stories

Sri Krishna
Sri Krishna is a technology enthusiast with a professional background in journalism. He believes in writing on subjects that evoke a thought process towards a better world. When not writing, he indulges his passion for automobiles and poetry.

Our Upcoming Events

Masterclass, Virtual
How to achieve real-time AI inference on your CPU
7th Jul

Conference, in-person (Bangalore)
Cypher 2022
21-23rd Sep

Conference, Virtual
Deep Learning DevCon 2022
29th Oct

3 Ways to Join our Community

Discord Server

Stay Connected with a larger ecosystem of data science and ML Professionals

Telegram Channel

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest updates from AIM
MOST POPULAR
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]