Star investor faces heat over messages

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Feb 23, 2017, 12:12 am IST
Updated Feb 23, 2017, 2:59 am IST
A young entrepreneur has accused popular venture capitalist Mahesh Murthy of misconduct.
Mahesh Murthy
 Mahesh Murthy

People on the internet have been talking about  a scandal involving a chat between venture capitalist Mahesh Murthy, and entrepreneur Wamika Iyer. The 25-year-old co-founder of a start-up, posted a message on LinkedIn accusing Mahesh of misconduct.

She alleged that she received lewd messages from Mahesh a year ago. Her efforts to bring the episode to the fore had apparently proved futile and hence she took to social media again this year after she noticed similar allegations levelled against him.

Wamika wrote, “It is shocking and sad to see famous venture capitalists, who are mentors to millions of young entrepreneurs, trying to exploit rising women entrepreneurs. I know it’s too late to post here. I hope this man stops behaving this way with other women and I would advise all women to be bold and not think about the society when it comes to exposing such people.” The post went viral.

When asked why she didn’t approach the police, Wamika said that she didn’t want to be  hassled by the process when her start-up was just taking off.  She had approached Mahesh for investment in her company. She is one of three women to level such accusations against Mahesh. Two young entrepreneurs, Pooja Chauhan and Supriya Sahoo, also posted screen grabs of their conversations with Mahesh.

When contacted, Mahesh refuted the claims, saying, “I have never met Ms Chauhan or Ms Iyer. My online conversation with Ms Iyer was under my assumption that we were online friends and there was no possibility of any investment. Iyer and her partner Vishal Nadar sent me the plan for their earlier company repeatedly between August 2014 and July 2015. In the months after that I clarified that I did not believe it was an investable business. That was probably by the end of 2015, and no business plans were sent after that. Ms Iyer acknowledged the same. As part of the personal conversation on Whatsapp, which was usually always started by her, usually very late in the evening, we chatted about things of a non-business nature.”

Addressing the post he added, “In May 2016, I spoke in a personal tone as two single adults might, and I immediately stopped doing so when Ms Iyer told me it was not welcome. This was my misunderstanding and I am sorry for that. I stopped right away and there were no conversations, online or otherwise at all after that. In summary, I believe I acted then without caution, and probably will be more cautious going forward.”


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