The mercurial CEO of Housing.com found himself at the centre of another “controversy” today. On 25th June, in the afternoon, ET Tech, the Technology section of Economic Times, posted an “exclusive” story on Rahul Yadav. The article claimed that Yadav has quit Housing.com again. But within a few hours, the article was taken down by Economic Times, without specifiying any reason. We have a screenshot of the original article as it had appeared:
As you can read, the news was completely “source” based. The article itself says that they did not get “immediate replies” from either Yadav, or a Softbank representative they contacted. Inspite of this, Times Group went ahead with this story. The article further went on to call Yadav the “enfant terrible of the Indian startup industry”.
Rahul Yadav on his part had slyly denied this news, by posting this on his facebook profile:
While Times Group is no stranger to peddling half baked news as “real news”, what makes this case interesting is that Times Group also owns MagicBricks.com, a rival of Yadav’s Housing.com. To be fair to Times Group, they did mention this in their article, but when publishing a news piece about its rival, one needs to be that much more careful. Especially when the news piece is being uncharitable to the rival.
This is all the more important, since Times Group and Rahul Yadav have been at it for quite some time now. In March 2015 too, Rahul Yadav was in the crosshairs of an Economic Times’ “source” based story. It reported that Housing.com Investors were thinking of replacing Yadav after “multiple differences”. Responding to this, Yadav had shot off a mail claiming that Times Group was maligning Housing.com to help its own company MagicBricks.com. He also pointed out a factual inaccuracy in the Times Group story, which claimed that Yadav was an accused in a car accident, whereas he was actually never in the car.
In response to Rahul Yadav’s email, Times Group had then sent Housing.com and its directors a legal notice seeking Rs 100 crores in damages, claiming that Yadav’s internal email was “defamatory”. It was a curious scenario where a “source” based news story, was denied by the person concerned, yet instead of the person who got defamed, it was the news portal which claimed “defamation”
Rahul Yadav though, seems to be aware of such games, and had updated his Facebook cover photo, 2 days back, showing his Housing.com being ambushed by 3 dinosaurs resembling various Times Group companies:
Amusingly, later today evening, Economic Times re-published the same post, with the same headline “Housing.com CEO Rahul Yadav quits, again”, but this time, mentioning clearly in its article that Rahul Yadav has denied the same. If at all Yadav has denied it, it is completely wrong on part of Economic Times to have a headline which says he has quit again. It would certainly make a good case for defamation if Rahul Yadav seeks to pursue it.