Gurbaksh Singh Chahal (born July 17, 1982) is an Indian-American internet entrepreneur and writer, who has also been convicted of domestic violence. By the age of 25, Chahal had founded two start-up advertising firms that sold for a total of US$340 million.
In 2014, Chahal pled guilty to charges of domestic violence battery and battery and was sentenced to three years probation. In 2016, after evidence emerged of a second domestic violence incident, a court found he had violated his probation and sentenced him to one year in jail.Chahal’s attorney has stated his intention to appeal the sentence.
Gurbaksh Singh Chahal
July 17, 1982 (age 34) Tarn Taran Sahib, Punjab, India
San Francisco, California
Co-founder of BlueLithium
Founder of RadiumOne
Founder of Chahal Foundation
On July 17, 1982, Chahal was born in Tarn Taran Sahib, Punjab, India.
Chahal dropped out of high school at age 16 to work full-time at his first venture, ClickAgents. ClickAgents was an advertising network focused on performance-based advertising. Two years later, ValueClick announced it agreed to buy ClickAgents in a $22 million all-stock merger.
In 2004, Chahal formed BlueLithium, a company that specialized in behavioral targeting of banner advertising, a process that tracks web users’ habits online in order to show ads they are most likely to click. In 2007, Yahoo! bought Blue Lithium for $300 million in cash. Chahal remained CEO of the company through the transition period.
In 2009, Chahal started RadiumOne, an online ad company that focused on creating a new category of real-time advertising. Chahal was fired as CEO of RadiumOne by the company’s board of directors on April 27, 2014, after pleading guilty to a domestic violence battery charge and rejecting calls to step down voluntarily.
In July 2014, Chahal launched his fourth technology company in online advertising, named Gravity4. In April 2015 a former female employee from Gravity4 filed suit against Chahal and the company for gender discrimination and harassment. In July 2016, Chahal resigned his position as CEO of Gravity4, and was succeeded by his sister Kamal Kaur, after a judge ruled that he violated his domestic violence probation by assaulting another woman in September 2014.
Domestic violence conviction
In August 2013, Chahal was charged by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office with 47 counts of domestic violence. Prosecutors alleged Chahal “hit and kicked” his girlfriend 117 times over a 30-minute period on August 5, 2013. Chahal’s video security system included cameras throughout the apartment, including two in the bedroom where the attack occurred.Chahal pleaded not guilty to the charges and posted $1 million bail.
The prosecution’s case was set back because the victim refused to cooperate with the prosecution. On April 2, 2014, a judge ruled that the video the SFPD obtained from Chahal’s apartment could not be used as evidence in his trial because police had seized it without a warrant, leading the prosecution to drop felony charges.
Chahal, at the urging of RadiumOne investor and one-time California state controller Steve Westly, paid former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown a $250,000 retainer to keep the charges from derailing a planned $100M IPO. Chahal met with and engaged Brown after Westly suggested that Brown could take advantage of his connections to the district attorney’s office. After the Judge’s favorable ruling regarding the admissibility of Chahal’s video, Brown returned $198,400.
On April 16, 2014, following a plea bargain, Chahal pleaded guilty to one charge of domestic violence battery and one charge of battery. Chahal was sentenced to three years probation, a 52-week domestic violence training course, and 25 hours of community service.
After his conviction, Chahal tweeted, “I maintain my innocence regarding these exaggerated accusations”; “For the past 10 months there were overblown allegations against me because of my alleged high-profile status”; and “Is the Internet this stupid to read one side of the story by tabloids vs. the actual truth? Grow up people before u judge false accusations.” Chahal later deleted the tweets.
In 2016, a San Francisco court revoked Chahal’s probation after evidence of an additional domestic violence incident emerged and sentenced him to one year in jail. In May 2015, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office sought to revoke Chahal’s probation, alleging he repeatedly kicked a girlfriend in the leg during an argument and threatened to report her to immigration authorities. The girlfriend accused Chahal of being violent with her in the past, grabbing her by the hair and once bruising her wrist during arguments. In addition, prosecutors alleged that Chahal’s security guard attempted to intimidate the victim by visiting her shortly after the incident to discuss her immigration status; she later returned to South Korea.Chahal’s defense team argued that the case should be dropped, since the primary witness against him was not available to appear in court; the court relied on the recording of victim’s statements to a 911 dispatcher and to hospital workers.
The prosecution also told the court that there were “remarkable” similarities between the two incidents, including that, in both incidents, Chahal had accused the victim of infidelity. In addition, the prosecution stated that Chahal had violated his probation in other ways, including yelling at his probation officer. Claiming that Chahal had shown “a complete lack of remorse” after the second accusation, the prosecution asked for the maximum sentence, 18 months in jail.
In August 2016, Chahal was sentenced to twelve months in jail. His attorney stated that he will appeal the sentence.
Chahal appeared on an episode of the Fox TV reality show Secret Millionaire, where he went undercover in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco and gave away $110,000 of his own money.
Chahal has also been actively involved with Pace University and in 2010 launched the Gurbaksh Chahal – Entrepreneurial Scholarship Program.
Inspired by the deadly events relating to the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, Chahal founded the Chahal Foundation with $1 million of his own money. The foundation is designed to create awareness campaigns to stop future hate crimes, scholarships, supporting disaster relief efforts, and improving school in third world countries.
The Dream, Palgrave Macmillan (October 23, 2008) ISBN 0-230-61095-1
Chahal founded, developed, and created the “ShareGraph” and was issued six patents by the USPTO in 2014 and 2015.
Building a social graph using sharing activity of users of the open web by creating an edge representing category type.
Building a social graph based on links received and selected by receiving users of the open web.
Building a social graph based on links received and selected by recipients and using graph to personalize content for delivery.
Updating weights of edges of a social graph based on sharing activity of users of the open web.
Building a social graph based on links received and selected by recipients.
Building a social graph using sharing activity of users of the open web by identifying nodes in the social graph and adjusting weights associated with edges.
Awards and recognitions
2006: AlwaysOn Top Innovator of the Year
2010: Anokhi Awards, Excellence in Digital Entrepreneurship
2010: BusinessWeek, Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs
2010: Pace University, Leaders in Management Award and honorary degree in Commercial Science
2010: Darpan, Extraordinary Awards – International Sensation
2010: MensXP.com, X51 – India’s Most Influential Business Man of the Year
2011: Most Influential CEO – Under30CEO
2011: Forbes Greatest Risks
2011: Men’s Health recognized Chahal as one of the world’s “richest and fittest guys”.
2012: Light of India Awards 2012: People’s Award for Excellence in Business Leadership
2012: Light of India Awards 2012: Amrapali Award for Entrepreneur of the Year
2012: iMedia’s Top 10 Hottest Digital Marketers of 2012
2012: Complex Magazine’s: The 25 Richest Tech Entrepreneurs Under 30
2013: Anokhi’s Prestige Awards 2013: Tech Entrepreneur of the Decade
2013: San Francisco Business Times: Top 40 Under 40
2013: Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award