Four months back, I moved into Bangalore. I had started searching for rented accommodation a week before. The plethora of platforms like Quikr, OLX, Commonfloor, Magicbricks and Housing had made brokers irrelevant, at least in my case.
Heck, who built this awesome Housing.com
I came into Bangalore with two listed rented properties on Housing as my options. I had shortlisted it from a list of 20 according to the location. I am typing this article in the first house that I saw through Housing and I did not even care about seeing the second one. My previous experience with other platforms were near to irritating as I had to deal with brokers on the other end most of the times.
Housing.com - Doing it right lastly
So the differentiating element in this product was it was refined. Classifieds existed since ages, Quikr and OLX was taking it to smartphone but fell short of doing it right in real estate. Housing was not the first entrant but still managed to make it right. No innovation in terms of rocket science but just took care of small things which made the product stand out from the crowd.
Rahul Yadav - A maverick or a minion
Rahul Yadav did not adhere to the rules created by the crowd. He entered into prestigious IIT Bombay but dropped out of IIT to create Housing.com. Even inside IIT, he created exambaba.com to access all the previous question papers of IIT so that students are benefited.
The IITian had created a loyal base inside the campus. Most of his colleagues appear to see him as an artist and refuse to acknowledge the bad mouthing of the press in the light of recent controversies surrounding Housing.com.
Abhishek Kejriwal, co-founder at Zyloon.com in an article for Quartz describes Rahul as
"He would go after ideas. He thinks in a very creative way—like an artist"
And admits that all 24 of them who lived in the same hostel as Rahul admired his innovative thinking.
But someone like Pranil Bafna, CEO and co-founder at IndiaReads.com who has worked with Rahul on a venture called MCoupon feels
"The arrogance sometimes exceeds the limits"
The Housing.com saga
The turning in the story started around March 2015 when Rahul Yadav trained his guns on Sequoia Capital and accused them of trying to poach employees at Housing.com.
He shot off an angry e-mail to Sequoia Capital MD Shailendra Singh and warned against poaching of Housing.com's employees and he would exit Housing if the same thing continues.
Then came the defamation suit filed by Times Group after Rahul mailed employees about possible sabotage by Times group. Times group backed the competitor MagicBricks and had reported on possible CEO replacement in Housing.com by investors.
In April 2015, Rahul shot off an explosive resignation mail tactically leaked publicly that questioned the intellectual capability of the board and investors and gave a one week notice period.
But he tendered an unconditional apology only to get back to give away all his shares to employees of Housing.com.
The starting of July saw the final end in this story when the board decided to fire Rahul Yadav for his indiscipline towards media, investors and board members.
So what really went wrong for the start up? The idea of startup is based on not playing to established norms. Initially you are free to express your own thoughts and implement it. But at certain point, a start up ceases to be that free world, they need to have rules and bosses are waiting for everyone. Only few technology companies have managed to put these rules in a way that does not hamper innovation but many of them fail.
In a blog by Michaelo Church titled "Don't waste your time in a crappy startup jobs", he busts a myth about start up founders and employees having no bosses
"The truth is that almost everyone has a boss, even in startups. CEOs have the board, the VPs and C*Os have the CEO, and the rest have actual, you know, managers. That’s not always a bad thing. A competent manager can do a lot for a person’s career that he wouldn’t realistically be able to do on his own. Still, the idea that joining a startup means not having a boss is just nonsense."
And the boss might not even know about the value of the company, as the frustration by Rahul Yadav is evident,
The Reddit AMA digs
The Reddit Ask Me Anything gave a platform for Rahul Yadav to air his views about the start up honchos and he was best at what he was - " taking digs at the biggies.
Responding to a user about what he thought about the Zomato CEO, Rahul said,
“A company scanning menus from last 7 years and doing no innovation. And the CEO says ‘Aww. So cute.'"
Rahul also confirmed in the AMA that he asked both Bhavish Aggarwal (Ola Cabs) and Deepinder Goyal (Zomato) to allot half of their shares to employees.
When a user questioned about 3 most important things that contribute towards a startups' success in the Indian startup ecosystem. Rahul Yadav had a frank answer.
I think currently it is:
- Validated and copied idea from another market
- Solving Indian people's problem
- Great product and innovation
- Great teams and culture
There is a divided opinion on whether Rahul Yadav is just a poster boy or has the real capability of building great product. Some social media judges have already proclaimed that he is the Rakhi Sawant or Rahul Gandhi of startup eco system. But, not all of them who know him closely thinks so, as the article in foundingfuel points out the story which we never heard of Rahul Yadav. Many people who know him closely believe he is going to make a mark in the coming days and he does not care a shit about influential others who are against him. But he is definitely rude when he takes on his colleagues, investors and other startup founders. May be the passion inside him is the root for such rudeness. The sabbatical will definitely allow him to think about his next plan and rudeness quotient.
Tech is clean but real estate isn't
When Google says, No evil; it actually means it to a large extent. But no real estate company will say "No evil" as being evil is the rule here. The money involved is big here and so are the politics behind it. So the main man who went on to take on this evil did not even come closer to solve it. The problem still remains and will housing.com sans Rahul Yadav or google backed commonfloor answer it or will the problem be always unsolvable?
Housing.com was Hacked !!!
The week he resigned and announced it, there was a hacking of housing.com website and mocking at the ouster of Rahul Yadav. While Rahul Yadav was seen in social media denying his involvement, the world wasnt actually convinced. May be he has a lots of tech followers. So just "LOOK UP"
On a lighter note
Rahul Yadav went furious over Vishal Sikkha snubbing him and preferring a sleep at airport lounge.