Arunabh Kumar, founder and CEO of The Viral Fever Media Labs (TVF), who is accused of sexual harassment by a former colleague, has stepped down from the position. Kumar will be replaced by TVF’s chief operating officer Dhawal Gusain.
In a statement released on Twitter announcing his decision, Kumar said, “In the wake of the recent personal attacks, what really breaks me is the blemish on the brand’s true promise. I have therefore taken the decision to step down as CEO of TVF.”
TVF was founded in 2010 by IIT Kharagpur alumnus Kumar. It is one of the several peers such as All India Bakchod (AIB) that capitalise on humour, meshing it with real world issues or developments. It also has its own website TVFPlay.
Kumar said he will continue to be available as a mentor for the content team. The company is in the safe hands of Gusain, who has been with the firm from 2015, he said.
Gusain has worked with instant feedback platform DropThought, management-consulting firm Booz & Co (which was acquired by PwC) and Hindustan Unilever in the past.
“Dhawal has a sharp business acumen and, together with our leadership team, will keep working tirelessly to scale TVF to greater heights and bring a renewed ambition and zeal to make TVF the best place to work at, for both women and men,” Kumar said in the statement.
In March this year, Mumbai Police had summoned the chief of the digital entertainment startup for his statement after he was booked on molestation charges. The victim, a former TVF employee, had filed a first information report against Kumar at the MIDC police station in Andheri (East), alleging sexual harassment and attempts to outrage her modesty.
Earlier in the same month, an anonymous blog post by a woman calling herself ‘Indian Fowler’ alleged multiple instances of molestation and sexual harassment by Kumar over two years, before she quit her job last year. Soon after, many women came forward on social media, levelling similar charges against Kumar.
Kumar was later granted anticipatory bail by a sessions court in the molestation case filed against him at the MIDC police station. Earlier in the same month, Kumar had secured bail in another molestation case filed against him at the Versova police station in Andheri.
The digital entertainment channel had rubbished Indian Fowler’s accusations against Kumar. “The article is completely ludicrous and defamatory against TVF and its team. All the allegations made against TVF and its team in the article are categorically false, baseless and unverified…We will leave no stone unturned to find the authors of the article and bring them to severe justice for making such false allegations. It is our humble request that you do not share an unsubstantiated, unverified and anonymous article such as this,” it had said.