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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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Paul Allen: Remembering This Tech Genius Through His Journey

Smruthi Kishore

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When you think Microsoft, you invariably think of Bill Gates. However, how many times have you stopped to think about Paul Allen, the other man behind one of the most successful tech companies in recent history? While not many know Allen was the reason Microsoft came to be, the history of Allen’s life journey is just as enriching and exciting.

The first seeds of invention

Paul Allen and Bill Gates were friends since they were really young. Growing up, they discussed their dreams and hopes, but never thought they would ever work together as adults. When the time came for them to branch into the world of innovation, invention and creation, it was Allen who came up with the genius idea of him and Gates working together.

Their first ever venture together was way back when they were in school, in the year 1972, when Allen and Gates launched Traf o Data, a software company which analyzed and tracked traffic patterns. Although this project didn’t do as well as the two hoped, it definitely sowed the seeds of a new line of thought for both Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Both of them grew up and went to different colleges, with Allen landing up in Washington State University and Gates going to Harvard.

While Gates lasted a little longer at university, Allen dropped out after the first two years, realising college was not his cup of tea. When Allen found out Gates was looking at creating new software for computers, he suggested they work together and this is how their first successful project, BASIC, came to being. Allen also played an integral role in naming the company Micro-Soft. In fact, he was the one who suggested the name!

By the time Gates and Allen had reached the point of success that propelled Microsoft to the number one position, Allen was already looking at how to market Microsoft’s patent software. When Gates promised the world IBM would change the way personal computers functioned, it was Allen who completed the successful purchase of the software (Quick and Dirty Operating System) which changed the world!

The beginning of the end 

Three years after one of the most historically turning points in the journey of Microsoft took place, Allen left Microsoft to focus on his health. He was fighting with Hodgkin’s lymphoma for and his deteriorating health was making it difficult for him to keep with the day to day going ons of Microsoft. Three years after he left Microsoft, Allen started Vulcan, named after the Roman god of fire, making sure personal investments were in order.

Despite struggling with cancer for this long in his life, Allen loved to live life king size. From owning a magnificent yacht to owning more than one prominent sports team, Paul Allen made sure he lived a life where every moment was lived to the fullest. In October 2018, Allen announced he was diagnosed with cancer that came back after a long period of remission and nothing he was doing was really helping him get better.

With Vulcan growing into one of the largest investment firms, Allen has been able to fund several prominent places in Seattle including the city’s Museum of Pop Culture, Washington State University and University of Washington. Also known for being a lover of rock music, Allen also founded a band called The Underthinkers and wrote or co wrote EVERY single song in the 2013 album!

An inspirational man, a dreamer and creator like never before, the day the world lost this tech genius (October 15, 2018,) was a truly sad day. Forever labelled as the day the world lost a brilliant genius, recovering from Paul Allen’s death is not going to be an easy feat. Despite officially leaving Microsoft in the year 1983, Allen stayed on the board of directors till 2000 and when he passed away, he stood as the 44th wealthiest man in the world. Just like Bill Gates mourns the loss of one of his oldest and closest friends, so does the rest of the world.

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All You Need To Know About Anil Kumble’s AI Enabled Power Bat

Smruthi Kishore

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Anil Kumble’s Spektacom Technologies, in partnership with Microsoft, has just developed a brand new Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled Power Bat. With the ability to collect data required for every shot hit and the details displayed both to the audience and the players, the new bat is aimed at making cricket an increasingly interesting sport! The basic aim of the new Power Bat is to increase engagement between both the audience and the coaches, giving players the chance to improve their game by leaps and bounds!

A unique concept, the Power Bat has a Microsoft Azure Sphere sticker on its shoulder, whereby as soon as the batsman hits the ball, data on a wide range of parameters like speed on impact, twist on impact and quality of the shot are recorded, captured and processed. This processing and capturing is enabled with the help of a new measurement called Power Speks. The date derived from the Power Bat can be recorded during coaching and practice matches, giving the players a chance to improve their performance during the actual game.

“Our vision is to bring sports closer to fans through interesting ways of engagement using real time sports analytics. At the same time, it is important that the technologies used are seamless and do not disrupt the game or obstruct the players,” Anil Kumble said while talking about the new Power Bat. He further added, “With Microsoft, we have been able to create a secure and effective solution, and with Star India, we have a partner that can stimulate and excite fan engagement.”

Anil Kumble and Microsoft came together to redefine the way people played this much loved sport with this game changing bat! The Power Bat was revealed a couple of days ago and it is already touted to be the game changer for cricket as a sport by 2019!

Speaking about the collaboration, Anil Kumble tweeted,

The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella also replied to Anil Kumble in a tweet

 

 

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Google Shuts Down Google Plus

Smruthi Kishore

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Google Plus, Google’s social networking arm, is going to be shut down moments after the company announced a major data breach happened, wherein the private information of around 500,000 users was made public over a period of three years, ranging approximately from March 2015 to March 2018. What is really surprising about this data reveal is that when the breach happened last spring, Google decided to cover up the issue, rather than address it like the mature company it was expected to be.

The glitch happened when Google allowed close to 500 external apps (438 apps, to be precise,) to obtain users’ full names, email addresses, occupations, relationship statuses, genders and ages, even for accounts which were made private. While these tools require the permission of the users for access, the information is more often than not made publicly available to these apps through third party users. Google said it could not identify the users whose data was leaked and therefore, it did not want to send out a mass memo regarding the issue.

Post the reveal of the data breach, Google said it did release an internal memo about the bug, but did not tell its users because it wanted to avoid dealing with the immediate regulations that would have been certainly imposed. Incidentally, this was when Facebook was in the spotlight for the Cambridge Analytica scam and if Google came under the radar for this, the repercussions would be massive, to say the least.

Repenting its decision to not do anything about the breach earlier, Google has finally decided to do something now. Not only is Google going to shut down Google Plus, its initiative, Project Strobe, is going to conduct a root and branch initiative of the third party developer access to Google accounts and Android data.

After this breach was brought to the public’s notice, Google has now decided to shut down Google Plus for a period of 10 months. However, people will still be able to use this networking platform for enterprise purposes and not for personal purposes. To improve the experience of the users using the G Suite, Google is going to notify customers the moment a data breach happens. Further initiatives on how Google is going to protect users’ data are going to be announced soon.

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