The suit was filed over an article authored by Murthy in the March 1st edition of Outlook Business magazine
The case is in the pre-admission stage and was filed on April 20
Bose was suspended by Zilingo in April 2022 following a series of allegations about impropriety raised by anonymous whistleblowers in the company
Ankiti Bose, the former CEO and the cofounder of Singapore-based fashion ecommerce startup, Zilingo has filed a $100 Mn (INR 820 Cr) defamation suit against the high-profile angel investor and Seedfund cofounder Mahesh Murthy.
The suit was filed over an article authored by Murthy in the March 1st issue of Outlook Business magazine, according to sources with knowledge of the development. Sources told Inc42 that Bose has filed a defamation suit in the Bombay High Court through law firm Singhania and Co LLP alleging that Murthy’s piece is “a continuation of the three-year-old vendetta” against her.
The case is in the pre-admission stage and was filed on April 20. Inc42 has accessed the case filing number on the court website, which mentions Ankiti Bose as the petitioner.
The defamation suit pertains to an article titled, “From Vulture Capital to Victim Capital” and authored by Murthy. In the column, the investor takes a strong dig at various startup founders without naming them and holding them responsible for the current significant drop in funding in the Indian startup ecosystem.
Without naming Bose in his article, Murthy wrote, “One lady ran a popular fashion portal and took Sequoia’s money. She got her firm to pay her lawyer Rs 70 crore as fees and it is rumoured got a lot of that amount directly back to herself as cut. She also got her firm to pay a public relations agency Rs 10 crore a year to have her profile appear as a glamorous CEO.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, Bose said that the article comprises a “litany of lies, distortions, and venomous claims”.
“Mr Murthy’s piece is a continuation of the three-year-long vendetta against me. This malicious media campaign launched against me has harmed my reputation, caused significant financial losses, and is entirely based on fiction, with not a shred of evidence against me,” the former Zilingo CEO said in a statement.
“I have always believed that having the privilege of a public platform should come with a sense of responsibility and probity. Mr. Murthy’s ‘opinion’ piece only goes to reinforce the sexist attitudes and gossipy innuendo that hold back more women founders from achieving their true potential,” she added.
Inc42 has sought a comment from Murthy on the above development. The story will be updated as and when the Seedfund cofounder responds.
Bose was suspended by Zilingo in April 2022 following a series of allegations about impropriety raised by anonymous whistleblowers in the company. Even as she was suspended, more reports showed that Zilingo’s cofounders Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor were also at odds when it came to business decisions.
Following her suspension, Bose also alleged that the Zilingo board and Sequoia Capital India in particular were on a witch-hunt to remove her from the company. However, thus far, these allegations are yet to be proven or detailed by Bose’s side.
Even as it faced some problems with the leadership, Zilingo’s revenue situation had already turned grave. Despite a tussle between Bose and the shareholders to wrest control of the situation, eventually the company went into liquidation in January this year.
Over the course of the past few months, Inc42 has been able to unearth more details about the company’s messy financial reporting as well as alarming information about over $10 Mn in unexplained payments and more, with Bose allegedly being in the thick of it. Here’s our latest detailed investigation on the Zilingo case, just over a year after controversy derailed the company.