It’s quite saddening and alarming too…the flippant world of media & entertainment is a constant see-saw scenario. Little off balance, or a wrong step and the mighty Humpty Dumpty has a big fall.
The case in point is ‘The’ Arunabh Kumar, a beacon or an absolute icon in the genre of independent web content creation. Founder and CEO of The Viral Fever (TVF Qtiyapa), his rise story is inspirational and epic.
The big daddy of web content, the guy was rejected by MTV. He went on to create his own niche in a dream like David vs Goliath tale. However, he hit a rough patch of late, after getting embroiled in a molestation case.
Finally, he stepped down from the coveted post owing to the entire negative noise, media trial, botching brand credibility.
Arunabh announced his resignation on Twitter:
The last few months have been the most challenging ones of my life and I would like to thank my friends and family for their unwavering support.
Lot of people wanted me to say something or tell my side of the story, but I did not because I learnt the hard way what happens when you say anything in haste.
We made a grave mistake, by reacting instinctively, in our first official response. While no amount of apologies can undo the mistake, I would like to again apologize from the bottom of our hearts for letting you all down and thus humbly accept the brickbats we received from all of you for that insensitive response.
A lot has happened in the last three months which has mentally and emotionally drained me. However, I have faith and confidence that eventually truth will prevail.
Through this all it has become clearer to me that, what was and will always continue to be most important is- TVF.
I started my entrepreneurial journey with a passion to entertain people with great stories and my dream was to make an Indian content company to match up to the likes of Disney and HBO.
It was and remains my dream to make content creation, which is always seen as an individual driven business, into a more organized profession, one that Indian youth can aspire for and where hundreds of storytellers could be successful. And that’s the core of TVF, a culture rooted in democratic and equal opportunities for everyone irrespective of gender, caste and background. We grew from a bunch of passionate, talented and inexperienced novices to a team of over 200 professionals, on the foundation of this very culture.
TVF was, is, and always will be larger than any one individual and I believe we have only just started on our path breaking journey to be a young global organization.
In the wake of the recent personal attacks, what really breaks me is the blemish on the brand’s true promise. I have therefore taken the decision to step down as the CEO of TVF.
I will be available as a mentor for the content team as they continue to deliver the stories you love us for.
I transition from this role knowing that TVF is in safe hands, handling over the reins to Dhawal Gusai, who will take on the mantle as the CEO of TVF. Dhawal has a sharp business acumen and, together with our leadership team, will keep working tirelessly to scale TVF to greater heights and bring a renewed ambition and zeal to make TVF the best place to work at, for both women and men.
Last but not the least, the biggest stakeholders of any company are its users, and we can’t thank you enough for standing by us throughout. We are indebted and grateful to you for giving us so much love and inspiration to do better. No matter what you say, for us, it only means one thing-that you care.
TVF is nothing without you!
Thank you, Arunabh Kumar”
It all started with a Delhi University graduate, who claimed she is originally from Bihar, wrote an anonymous blog spot on the Medium accusing Kumar of molesting her multiple times over two years after she was hired at TVF. The woman, who chose to go by the name of ‘Indian Fowler’, had said that Arunabh Kumar on the 21st day into her job told her that he feels lonely being a Bihari in Mumbai and the conversation quickly escalated to him telling her that they should engage in role plays. The post was taken down after Arunabh Kumar made national headlines.
TVF initially responded to the viral Medium blog post saying they would “leave no stone unturned” to track down the anonymous writer and “bring them to severe justice”, terming the accusations “ludicrous, defamatory and unverified”. In internal inquiry was said to have been initiated, but the company stood by their stance and Arunabh Kumar’s colleagues vouched for his innocence by making social media posts from their personal handles (source: India Today).
However, the damage has been done. Being from the media clan, the story was discussed, told & retold at journo meets. Any form of scoop, that too a high profile one, is delicious for all.
Some maintained that Arunabh is indeed a culprit, his nature being lecherous which took an appalling Demonic shape owing to his new found stardom and money power.
“Woh aisa hi hai…parties mein flirt shirt karta tha…employees se karke pange le liye,” are the words of a senior journo who breaks bread with the who’s who of the celeb tinsel town.
Every point has a counter point. Multiple conjectures doled out in search of the absolute truth. There are also whispers about him upsetting someone influential in the corridors of power, his ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude cost him his chair. In a business pool, you swim with the fishes and the sharks, it’s all about how well you maneuver till you reach the sunny shore.
Having said that, Arunabh and his fall from grace (which is subjective) is an example for many. The case is sub-judice and we have full faith in the medium. If he is indeed the culprit, he should be damned by the law, if not…the false accusers should be taught a lesson.
Some takeaways…don’t mix business with pleasure, maintain integrity, power & money are transient, and yes…karma is the greatest leveler for one & all.
Work hard, be humane and let law take its course.
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