SoftBank-backed real estate portal Housing.com will soon form a new board of directors. Newly appointed CEO Jason Kothari is being considered for a greater role within the new board and may be made chairman and managing director in due course, according to a source directly aware of the development at the three-year-old startup.
With this, lead investor SoftBank, which has been playing an active role in running the company over past six months, is seen taking a back seat. Besides Kothari, Jonathan Bullock, SoftBank’s representative who was leading the now-dissolved operating committee; Ritesh Banglani, partner at Helion Ventures; and Abhishek Anand, co-founder and chief technology officer would be members of the new board.
CEO Jason Kothari was not available to respond to a call for this report.
Housing has dissolved the operating committee, as per a report by The Economic Times. The committee was formed in the first week of May after differences between the investors and co-founder and then CEO Rahul Yadav reached a flashpoint with the latter threatening to quit in a scornful letter. The operating committee, which held weekly reviews and controlled finance and operations, had eventually replaced its earlier board in which Yadav and another co-founder Advitiya Sharma were members besides investor representatives. While Yadav was ousted, Sharma decided not to continue on the board.
Housing’s investors including Suvir Sujan of Nexus Partners, Navroz D Udwadia of Falcon Edge Capital and Haresh Chawla of India Value Fund too have been playing an active role in running the firm over the last six months when it has witnessed the controversial ouster of Yadav, a shake-up that saw the exit of a few senior people, closure of some business divisions, shut-down of operations in many cities, formation of a new senior team and appointment of Kothari as new CEO. According to the source, none of the above mentioned investors might join the new board.
Emergence of Kothari, who joined the company as chief business officer in early August, as the new leader of Housing has been quick and steady. Kothari, who was brought up in Hong Kong and graduated from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, started his entrepreneurial journey by taking over New York-based multi-media entertainment company Valiant Entertainment along with a few others in 2007. After nursing the company back into financial health, 34-year-old Kothari stepped down from the post of CEO in 2013 but continued as its vice chairman. He moved to Mumbai a year ago.
He purportedly turned down a more lucrative offer to join as chief business officer of Housing. It now seems a good bet as he straight away joined the company’s operating committee, became the company’s CEO within three months and is poised for a greater role.
Kothari, meanwhile, is in the middle of a streamlining exercise in an effort to bring down cash-burn at the startup which raised $120 million so far. It has decided to scale back its rental business and focus on new home purchase and initiated a downsizing drive.
Housing competes with PropTiger in which News Corp, the parent of this news website, owns a 30 per cent stake.