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July 13, 2014

The day a Founder-CEO was ALMOST thrown out of his own company

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Posted by:
Sunil P Thomas

Its almost unheard of in India.  The person who started an organization being thrown out of that same organization unceremoniously. It has happened in Apple when Steve Jobs was thrown out. Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang was replaced by the board after lackluster performance. Closer to home, in TV18, Founder-CEO Raghav Behl was thrown out after Reliance acquired the company in a hostile takeover. This almost happened in Appiness. This is how the highly dramatic events unfolded.

Appiness always had a very strong streak of off-the-work activities. The whole team, being a bunch of energetic youngsters, we always used to do a lot of activities outside office. Cricket, Football, Beer pong, carom board, Snooker, you name it, we have done it as Appiness. We have a cricket team, a football team and half a badminton team. (We have half a music band as well, that's a story for another day). This is where the entire internal disturbance started. Company was going great guns, the business was good, we were growing, and we were venturing into new domains, but still, we could not take embarrasment.

It all started when CEO, Mr. Visakh registered for the 13th One Dream Corporate Championship. The first tournament was a disaster- with most of our players being injured and with the level of stamina we had- we lost all the 3 matches from that tourney. It was an insult we could not take. We started taking football practice seriously. We used to travel to different floodlit football pitches around Bangalore to practice football after 9:30 pm most weeknights. Then we participated in another tournament in Play Arena, Sarjapur Road, where our team was crashed out on Semifinals.

This was more than what Appiness could accept. Voices of mutiny rose from the team. Everyone went against the CEO who was spoiling the name of the company. A referendum signed by 56 of 58 employees went to COO, Rigin Velayudhan, asking for the CEO to step down and stop embarrassing the company brand name. That when the next edition of One Dream Cup came up. This was a chance for the CEO to redeem himself. Or to nail his own coffin.

14th One Dream Corporate Championship started on 12th July in St. John’s ground. We had the toughest opening match; 5 time cup winners TCS was our opponents. We started the first match with a draw. And immediately after the CEO declared that if we don’t win a trophy, he will dissolve the football team. He had an extra reason to be confident- our VP- Legal, Vinod had came from Cochin exclusively to play.

We reached the quarter-finals. Since then, it was a juggernaut, one by one we started winning the matches. Jumpstart fell 4-0. TCS Electronic city fell in penalty shootout. We were to face Groupon in finals, the penalty shootout was result-less; sudden death was in order. Our old friend and new addition to the design team, Jiby took the kick and beat the Groupon goal keeper with ease; we had won the first football tournament in Appiness history. CEO was also awarded as the most valuable player. At last he saved his ass, if we had lost the match, we were planning to use pepper spray on him and fire him from the position of CEO.

So a great game of football saved the CEO from being thrown out of Appiness. And by the way, well done, guys. Lets start the celebrations. Open the bottles. 

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