Housing.com CEO Rahul Yadav has just returned to his position as CEO hours after having impulsively submitted a vitriolic resignation letter to the board members of the realty startup. You may not have heard of Rahul Yadav, other than him being a rabble-rouser in the corporate world. However, there’s a lot more to the 26-year-old CEO of one of the most happening start-ups in India – Housing.com. At the same time, it’s tough to look past the combativeness of the young man, solely based on the events that transpired in March 2015. He dared to take on one of India’s largest media behemoths, the Times Group. In a leaked internal email that Yadav sent on March 12, he took offence over a story that appeared in the Economic Times, over allegedly unhappy investors speaking out against him. His primary contention was that there was a conflict of interest with them carrying the story, as the Times Group has a stake in Magicbricks.com, a direct competitor to Housing.com The Times Group reacted by sending a legal notice to Yadav, among others, demanding Rs 100 crore for defamation.
This was not Yadav’s first (or only) brush with controversy. Just a couple of days before the Times Group fracas, another email surfaced on Quora, in which Yadav warns (in quite strong language) Shailendra Singh, CEO of Sequoia capital, against poaching employees from Housing. Singh replied to the email stating that he was “deeply hurt”. Yadav’s reply, which was later deleted, was again fairly colourful.
According to sources, his conduct and the had upset his investors who had been contemplating his removal for some time. Along with taking digs at the media behemoth and Shailendra Singh, Yadav was at war with Softbank – one of the largest shareholders in Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba and a major investor in Housing.com, having invested around $90 million in the company. The potential for huge financial losses that could occur due to his conduct, had the investors worried.
Hailing from Alwar, Rajasthan, Yadav’s early years in school weren’t academically sound. However, a stellar showing in his Class 12 exams earned him a 75 per cent scholarship for preparing for the IIT-JEE, and he arrived at IIT Mumbai. It was here that his interest in the online space was aroused, but after three years in IIT, Yadav dropped out. Together with friend Advitya Sharma, he co-founded Housing.co.in in 2012, along with 10 other IITians. How did the idea to form a real estate search portal come about? Yadav and Sharma realised what a struggle it was to find a house in Mumbai, and how little information there was about properties listed online. They also learnt how profitable the Mumbai real estate brokerage business was – with a good network of potential clients among their IIT batch mates, they decided they would become brokers. They were soon earning anywhere between Rs 1 to 2 lakh a month.
The next step was to spread their wings nationally, and thus was born Housing.co.in which was renamed Housing.com the following year. This is a map-based portal that lists details of the properties, with everything from photographs to the amenities around the property, rentals, broker profiles, price heat maps and finding PGs. Today, Housing.com has more than 750 employees, and has attracted five rounds of institutional funding. It has its presence in both Tier1 and Tier2 cities in India, and its future goals include mapping at least one crore houses on its website, as well as expanding to overseas markets.
“Our mission is innovation and optimism for Housing. As India leapfrogs its way to becoming one of the fastest growing economies on earth, Housing, spearheaded by an ocean of highly ambitious individuals, is at the forefront, changing the way the real estate industry will be experienced in the future across the planet,” declares Yadav. “Our vision is to help the world live better,” is his and the company’s mantra. That, and never taking a step back, regardless of who the opponent is.
Yadav has got to have made it to the list of the most ballsy comeback kids. His value to the company is evidenced through his swift reinstatement, especially since his resignation letter went like this:
“Dear board members and investors, I don’t think you guys are intellectually capable enough to have any sensible discussion anymore. This is something which I not just believe but can prove on your faces also! I had calculated long back (by taking avg life expectancy minus avg sleeping hrs) that I only have ~3L (hours) in my life. ~3L hrs are certainly not much to waste with you guys!
Hence resigning from the position of Directorship, Chairmanship and the CEO position of the company. I’m available for the next 7 days to help in the transition. Won’t give more time after that. So please be efficient in this duration.