He's 26, resigned in an acerbic letter to his board that was leaked on social media, and withdrew the note hours later. That occasioned some headlines. But there was more to come. Days later, Rahul Yadav, the CEO of Housing.com, gave away all his equity to Housing.com employees. He spoke to NDTV.com's Manisha Natarajan about what lies ahead.
NDTV.com: Your thoughts on being controversy's child?
Yadav: I have no idea. It's all been done by media, they can answer better.
NDTV.com: The lessons that guide you the most?
Yadav: In IIT, I was surrounded by very smart people, but when I got out into the real world, I realised the density of smart people is not very high.
NDTV.com: The tech companies you admire? Any Indian companies?
Yadav: Twitter and Uber are two businesses I admire. No Indian startups in particular.
NDTV.com: Comments on that provocative resignation letter and the 'fight' with investors?
Yadav: I do not regret being aggressive with investors. "You can be aggressive with people who you are close to. It was just a normal day at Housing, it just got leaked, and people made it into a big deal. We are very frank."
NDTV.com: What made you decide to give away your stock (worth up to Rs. 200 crores according to some estimates)
Yadav: Giving away stock gives clarity - to me, to people inside [the company], investors, and to the outside world - that I'm not in this business for money, but for solving the problem.
NDTV.com: Have you cashed out any Housing.com equity so far?
Yadav: I've not cashed out anything. I live in a rented house in Mumbai, my car is rented as well. I just draw a salary to cover basic expenses.
NDTV.com: Now that you're not quitting, your plans for the next 12 months?
Yadav: In the next one year, we will go from Housing.com to becoming a group of companies that does 'everything real estate' - office spaces, data analytics... we will also expand to other countries that are developing in terms of construction like the Middle East, South East Asia.
NDTV.com: Your advice to startups?
Yadav: Every business has two stages - when you are building something and when you've captured the market. When you are building something, make sure you innovate. When you are running the business, make sure you are efficient. In short - Businesses are built with innovation, and they are run with efficiency
NDTV.com: Is e-commerce in India a big fat bubble that will pop sooner than expected?
Yadav: When you are a large player, it's difficult for someone to beat you - for example, in China, there's Alibaba, in US, there's Amazon. On the Internet, size is a very good competitive advantage. In India, they've seen how big companies are built in other countries, and they are replicating that in India. Yes, they are in a big hurry, and they've done a few things a bit early, before the market was mature, but the companies that will do good in the next 4-5 years would've built large business for the next 15-20 years. I don't think these valuations are high if you look at 15-20 years' time-frame. For companies that will die in the next 1-2 years, any valuation is a waste.
NDTV.com: Housing.com is now live in 101 cities across India. Why was this so central to your plans?
Yadav: If you look at other Internet businesses, most of them are for metro cities, but if you look at real estate, it is quite active in even rural parts of India. I'm from what you'd call a Tier-5 kind of a town and there are a lot of transactions that happen there - perhaps more than metros. For us, not just tier-2 and tier-3 cities, even small towns are a very important market. We've not spent any high capital on this expansion and we've done it in a very lean manner. We have not opened offices in tier-2 or tier-3 cities.