RadiumOne Fires CEO After Plea Deal on Violence ChargesHeather Perlberg, Cory Johnson and Karen Gullo
RadiumOne Inc. Chief Executive Officer Gurbaksh Chahal said he was fired from the online-advertising network after agreeing to plead guilty to domestic violence charges.
Closely held RadiumOne, which took the action April 26, provided no reason for Chahal’s dismissal in a statement yesterday and spokeswoman Aman Battish declined to elaborate. In a post on his personal website, Chahal said he had been charged with 45 felony counts of domestic violence, all of which were dropped. He said he accepted a misdemeanor plea deal offered by prosecutors and was fined $500.
Chief Operating Officer Bill Lonergan will take over as CEO of the San Francisco-based company immediately. RadiumOne last month was in late stages of preparing for an initial public offering, people with knowledge of the matter said then.
Chahal, reached by phone yesterday, confirmed the statements on the website were his and additionally said he was pressured by RadiumOne’s board to accept the plea deal to keep the IPO on track. Chahal’s dismissal came 10 days after he said he accepted the plea deal offered by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.
The board “wanted me to settle this with just two misdemeanors and a $500 fine so we could go on with the IPO,” Chahal said in the interview. Chahal said that had he fought the charges in court as he wanted, “it would be another nine to 15 months and we’d be a 2015 IPO.”
Chahal pleaded guilty to one count of domestic battery and one count of battery, Assistant District Attorney Alex Bastian said today in a phone interview. Chahal was placed on three years’ probation, required to complete 52 hours of domestic violence counseling and will be subject to searches of his residence and property without a warrant, Bastian said.
The case against Chahal was weakened, Bastian said, because the victim didn’t cooperate and a state court judge ruled video from surveillance cameras in Chahal’s bedroom obtained without a search warrant couldn’t be used as evidence.
“We disagree with the judge’s suppression of the video,” Bastian said. “The judge’s ruling substantially weakened the evidence we had for prosecution. Additionally, the victim and her retained attorney have been uncooperative with the process.”
Battish, the Brunswick Group spokeswoman for RadiumOne, said she couldn’t immediately comment on Chahal’s case. Chahal’s attorney, James Lassart, didn’t immediately respond today to an e-mail seeking comment on it.
The case was filed in August 2013. On the website, Chahal said the incident stemmed from an argument with his girlfriend and he accepted the plea deal to avoid a protracted court case.
“There can be no dollar value placed on the pain and suffering I have caused my family and friends, my employees and customers, my investors, and everyone else who has looked up to me in the past,” Chahal said in the posting. “The humiliation and shame I feel is immeasurable. The dollar cost to my business and my reputation is incalculable.”
RadiumOne expects to generate more than $100 million in revenue this year, according to people who spoke about its IPO plans last month and asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. Proceeds were to be used for acquisitions, focusing on international expansion, they said.
RadiumOne would have been Chahal’s first IPO. He sold ClickAgents.com Inc., an online-ad network, to ValueClick Inc. in 2000 for $20.5 million in stock. He then founded BlueLithium Inc., an online behavior-tracking tool, which was bought by Yahoo! Inc. in 2007 for $300 million.
ComScore listed RadiumOne as the ninth-largest online ad network with 169.7 million unique visitors in January.