BharatPe’s Managing Director Ashneer Grover resigned from the company and its board. In a fiery and defiant letter to the startup’s board of directors on Tuesday, Grover has thrown the gauntlet at the board and management to achieve what he has achieved so far. The embattled founder and ‘shark’ of Shark Tank India cast himself as a victim of baseless allegations and his investors as out of touch and “spooked” for pressuring him into departing. For now, Grover remains the single largest shareholder of the company with 9.5% of the company.
Grover and his wife Madhuri Jain Grover had been pulled up by auditors for what appeared to be bogus receipts and financial irregularities in BharatPe, in a leaked report by Alvarez & Marsal. The Grovers contested these allegations as a bid to tarnish their reputations, even as Ashneer took what was supposed to be a leave of absence until April.
“Ashneer Grover resigned as Managing Director and Board Director of BharatPe minutes after receiving the agenda for upcoming Board meeting that included submission of the PWC report regarding his conduct and considering actions based on it. The Board reserves the right to take action based on the report’s findings,” said a BharatPe spokesperson.
The founder has been embroiled in scrutiny by investors and the news media since January when a clip went viral supposedly showing him abusing a Kotak Wealth Management employee for the company’s failure to get him any allotment on the Initial Public Offering of Nykaa. While Grover denied the authenticity of the clip, Kotak appeared to validate it by announcing that it would take action against Grover for his language.
In the almost four years since the fintech firm was formed, its value has ballooned and it has disbursed loans worth over Rs 2,800 crore to small shops. Grover’s tenure was marked as much by this scale as by his flair for the theatrical typical of Silicon Valley founders, in gambits such as promising BMW bikes to tech talent. His sharp takes as a potential investor on the Indian adaptation of Shark Tank also divided viewers, with many finding his ‘plain talking’ too abrasive.
The revelations so far from the BharatPe investigations, besides Grover’s exit leaves both Grover and BharatPe in a tough spot, as Grover lives down the many accusations against his working style, and Bharatpe seeks to build without the man whose stamp is all over its achievements so far.