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Stayzilla Founder Yogendra Vasupal In Trouble! It’s Time To Raise Our Voice For Him

Smruthi Kishore

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Hotel room aggregator Stayzilla’s CEO and Founder Yogendra Vasupal was arrested and sent to jail by Chennai Police Commissioner after a case was filed against him by Jigsaw Advertising, accusing him of fraud.

Stayzilla, the registered private limited company, owes money to the advertising firm and not Vasupal himself in his personal capacity. What is to be noted is that instead of filing a civil case, a criminal case was filed against Vasupal and that is why he is behind bars now.

To our utmost shock, Stayzilla’s Co-founder Sachit Singh received a box from an anonymous source. Inside the box, there was a voodoo doll and his son’s photo on it. The writing on the package said: “The most special way to say you care.”

Yogendra Vasupal wrote in his blog about the incidents he had been facing from his landlords as well as his investors. In this, he detailed the two cases Stayzilla faced.

He wrote: “If you are seeing this line, it means that the pre-saved draft was published without the time to remove a line. Likely, because I am under duress with no time to edit.

I want to bring to light the problems that I and Sachit are facing. We are also seeking any help that you have to offer. I had announced that Stayzilla will be rebooting its operations on Feb 23rd. While things are progressing well with respect to the reboot (more on that later,) I have realized that while we all want India to Start up and Stand up, the regulatory framework + corruption does not let one pick up after they fall. Instead, it works overtime to bury them.
Here are the facts on 2 cases. The first case is against a politician who was our landlord. We have video and audio proof of an assault and then a verbal threat to kill. The second case is against us from a media agency with whom the company had a dispute over the deficiency of services and to whom we had asked to take it up in court. The stark difference in the approach taken by the police in these 2 cases should tell you something important.

Case 1: Landlord

We had been working out of our office in Bangalore for roughly a year. When we got to know in the end of January that the next 3–5 weeks was going to be touch and go, we thought it would be better to sit down with the landlord and explore various options and prepare for contingencies. In the initial meetings, I had to bear a lot of verbal insults of being called a failure multiple times and how a failing company is destroying the reputation of his building. I ignored all those repeated insults to find any common ground with the Landlord. Over multiple meetings, he started getting even more agitated demanding immediate payment (for which he had accepted a post-dated cheque of March 7th) and became violent.

Watch the video here:

He assaulted my admin staff in front of me threatening to kill him with the revolver in his car. The video and audio (in Kannada) are there below for your perusal.”
After this assault, I got to know from my admin team that he has been a regular source of trouble for them with him insulting and accosting them at every turn. In fact, the smoking area in the company was moved from the ground floor (adjacent to the bike park) to the terrace because he used to pass comments on any women staff who took their breaks there. Unfortunately, this was brought to my attention almost towards the end. I was not able to find any CCTV footage beyond a month old and proceed in the right legal manner. And so decided to pursue the latest assault instead of ignoring it through the right legal means. The key reason was the fact that this was a perennial problem and the behavior I had witnessed was not a one off thing. All of us, after all, make mistakes once in a while.

Case 2: Media Agency

Almost a month later, on March 9th, 2 policemen in Bangalore came home in mufti and stated that I am wanted in the station for questioning. I called my lawyer immediately and was informed by him that if there wasn’t a summons or a warrant, I don’t have to go. I got back to the cops whom I seated at my home and informed them of the same. I then asked them for more information on the reason they wanted me. I was told that there is a case against me by somebody from Chennai for cheating, intimidation and etc. I recognized the name of the complainant and informed them that there was a dispute between 2 companies and we had asked the other company to take it up in the court. I don’t personally owe anybody money and I am wondering how can they get confused on such a basic matter as this was a clear civil case. I also pointed out that we have been asking the other company to take it to court if they felt they were wronged as we felt within our right. I also pointed out that my company is also owed close to 7 crores from various debtors but I am not going around filing false criminal cases against them.

I was then made to speak with the inspector who told me that until now they had not filed a complaint or registered a FIR at that point and to come to the police station. I told him that this complaint was filed in Chennai already and that my lawyer had interacted with the police in Chennai and appraised them of the whole matter and about the bogus nature of the complaint. I also informed him that we have been verbally threatened on call multiple times by owners of that company.

And that I don’t understand why I had to go to 2 stations in 2 different states for the same case.
The Inspector then lay down the line stating that sending mufti policemen was the first way, the second way was that they will file a FIR and send uniformed policemen and have me arrested and jailed. After being taken aback for a split second, I realized that as long as I fear to go to the Jail, I will always succumb to baseless threats. I then told him if it was my fate to go to jail, I will. Post which I will win this baseless case in court and prove him wrong. Ended the call with that.

The mufti policemen at home were still trying to convince me to go to the station to respect their superior’s wishes (“after all we are all in the same locality and will keep seeing each other” said one). I learned that the Inspector from the Chennai police station was there at the Bangalore station and was the source of the complaint. I was shocked. Just the previous night my Lawyer had stated to me that he had met the Chennai Inspector over the weekend and that he had guided my lawyer to respond to the false complaint first and then provide our complaint on the threats and harassment from the owners of the media agency. My lawyer was asked to bring the draft response on the following Monday to settle the matter — 13th March — as the Inspector was taking a personal trip for 2 days. That’s when

I realized that things are not neutral as the Inspector had communicated one thing to my lawyer while doing something else and was acting in bad faith.
The same day policemen went to Sachit’s house asking for him, went to my home over the weekend asking for me. When my parents or his parents asked for the reason, they said that there was some complaint and that they did not know what it was about. My father lost it and asked them how they could be looking for a person with know what they were looking for and if they were just trying to create the nuisance.

We immediately called his wife and kids to my home. 8 hours later they were safe with us. In the meanwhile, our lawyer got his known colleagues in Chennai activated and the next Monday (Fen 27th) we went there to handle this (while giving this interview on the same day). We met up with the lawyer and he advised us that he would first go to the station to understand the case and then call us there. He finally managed to meet the Inspector only on Sunday as he was also busy with other things.

On Sunday, I got to know that the complaint filed against us had false accusations like Sachit going to the vendor’s office to threaten with 2 henchmen of some MLA. That I used to call him and threaten him with dire consequences if he pursued the matter. I laughed and said I had never spoken to him and would love for him to get any call records proving the same. And that Sachit was the one who was threatened by people visiting the office and on call. We even had the CCTV footage of those henchmen coming to our office. At that point, I thought that this vendor was smart to have used his illegal actions as the template of his complaint against us. Now in hindsight, with the bad faith shown, I am not sure if it was the vendor who was smart or was he being guided by the Inspector/higher ups to protect himself better.

The same day, my lawyer gave the gist of the case outlining that this was between 2 companies (where Stayzilla had already paid over 80% over a period of 3 years, where cumulative amount paid is 6.5 Crore Rupees) and that the dispute began with a “severe deficiency of services” and we have repeatedly asked the other party to go to court if they felt there was any wrong. It was also pointed out that the Pvt Ltd company had certain protections offered in terms of this kind of cases.

Further, the call recording of the vendor and his family threatening Sachit and his family was also shared. My lawyer walked away with the impression that the Inspector was professional and that it made sense to work with him to close the case and followed his instructions to first close this case before filing the real case of threat, intimidation, outraging the modesty of women next.

It is curious that after giving that advice and before our response could be perused, he came to Bangalore to pursue this further. In fact, when my lawyer in Chennai got to know that the Inspector was there in Bangalore, he tried reaching the Inspector multiple times through unanswered calls.”

The entire Startup community stood up for Yogendra Vasupal with #ReleaseYogiNow. After reading this story from his blog, people from the startup community, as well as social media users, are demanding him to be released from the jail.

 

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Apple Introduces Three New Phones At An Exclusive Event

Smruthi Kishore

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Continuing the growth spurt that made Apple the first trillion dollar company in the world, the phone company launched three brand new phones. The iPhone XS, iPhone XS MAX and iPhone XS, Apple’s new phones for the year 2018 are officially here! While the iPhone XS and iPhone XS MAX are primarily the same, the iPhone XR is radically different in terms of size, shape and style!

Even though Apple has tried its hand at cheaper versions with the SE and the 5C (and failed,) these new variants are definitely up to the mark. Despite the iPhone XR being priced at a moderate price range (starting at $ 749,) the features are extremely similar to the other higher priced iPhones, such as the X and the eight.

The XS is faster and better than its predecessor in every possible way. The XS Max is too, except it now has a 6.5 inch screen. The XR, with an LCD screen (with slightly less impressive colour reproduction,) is still the same on the inside, just without a telephoto lens on the back. Even though the iPhone X and the iPhone XS MAX come with primarily similar features, the makers promise a better camera. as compared to the iPhone X. Why? Because of the power possessed by the A12 bionic chip inside!

What makes the camera all the more interesting is the camera’s algorithms can detect people’s faces and automatically correct any red eyes. Furthermore, the smart HDR feature can highlight and find shadow details at the same time. The depth of the portrait mode (called the bokeh effect) can also be adjusted not just while you take the photo but after you take the photo as well, giving you complete control over the blur effect! All editing happens in the photos app, through a slider!

The new iPhone series is definitely worth the wait, reinforcing the idea of a brand new world of smartphones and giving people something new and interesting to look forward to with the latest iPhone trio series. The iPhone XS and iPhone XS MAX are going to be available for pre order on Friday!

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Elon Musk Works 120 Hours a Week, Stays In Factory For 4 Days

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In an interview with The New York Times, Elon Musk said he has been working 120 hours a week. It is more than three times the national average work week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As the CEO of two major companies, Tesla and SpaceX, Musk seems to be having a hard time delegating his work. This is making him overworked.

“The classic problem as an entrepreneur is that they have a hard time delegating,” Robert Pozen senior lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management. “But that’s really crazy. Recruiting other executives is critical, so is dealing with customers and dealing with regulators. Those are functions that only the top founders can do.”

Silicon Valley has been criticized for glorifying overworking. “A culture of overwork is damaging because it turns brief binges of hard work into a long-term strategy, and, worse still, an expectation. When managers start measuring the worth of their employees according to how quickly they return emails at 3 a.m., that particular work culture is broken,” said Adam Alter, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Musk realised that this behaviour is harmful and has been affecting his life drastically.

“There were times when I didn’t leave the factory for three or four days – days when I didn’t go outside,” Musk said. “This has really come at the expense of seeing my kids. And seeing friends.”

Elon Musk also revealed that he has not been on vacation since 2001, he has spent his most recent birthday at work. Musk added, he has trouble sleeping “it is often a choice of no sleep or Ambien.”

It has been reported that the Tesla executives are looking for a number two, to take on some of Musk’s daily responsibilities. Musk said that he is not aware of this search and has no plans to step away from his many roles at Tesla.

As the CEO of two major companies, Musk is known to keep an intense daily routine. Inc. previously reported that the CEO ignores most phone calls, abstains from getting stuck dealing with emails, and breaks his entire day into a series of five-minute slots. But apparently, he’s still there for 120 hours a week.

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Google Parent invests $ 375 Million In Oscar Health

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Google’s parent company, Alphabet has invested $ 375 million in an insurance startup company, Oscar Health.

Post the investment, Alphabet will own 10% of the stake in the startup. Alphabet through its venture firm CapitalG and the life sciences division Verily participated in a $ 165 million funding round for Oscar Health.

Founded in 2012, Oscar Health is a technology-focused health insurance company that is headquartered in New York City.

Oscar Health co-founder and CEO Mario Schlosser said, “it’s fantastic for us because it will really allow us to focus fully on the core model we’ve been building for the past 6 years, which is: use technology, use data, use design, use a human approach to build a very different health care experience,”

The startup offers health coverage through ObamaCare in six states. Oscar Health is planning to introduce new innovation like providing a “concierge” team, which includes a nurse. The nurse will help the people enrolled to find suitable doctors.

Schlosser announced the news in an interview,  “We can hire more engineers, we can hire more data scientists, more product designers, more smart clinicians who can think about health care a different way. It’s the acceleration of that product roadmap that fascinates us the most. The second, more tangible piece, is that we’re launching new product lines.”

The co founder of Oscar Health, is Josh Kushner, the brother of Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner is Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser. This relationship is quite intriguing looking at Oscar Health’s participation in ObamaCare.

Schlosser in an interview said Josh Kushner’s connection to Trump “does not affect what we do.” He added, “Whatever happened in the press, whatever happens on the regulatory side, I have personally always thought, and I think the company shares in this, that if we have something that leads to lower costs and happier members in some shape or form we’ll be able to turn this into a successful company.”

 

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