Unicon Baba – the infamous Twitter handle that surfaced early last year on March 18 and which has come to be associated with the notorious trolling of the Indian startup ecosystem, its investors, startups as well as other babas and who has disclosed a number of hush-hush news about the startup ecosystem on social media has allegedly been unmasked today.
He has amassed a following of over 9000+ people in the short span of a year and has always remained a “Person of Interest” with every “Tom, Dick and Harry” of the Indian startup ecosystem has been eager to know – Who is Unicon Baba, really? His tweets had become a regular conversation starter at every startup event. While many tried guessing at his identity, no one had been able to figure out the man behind the Twitter handle, “uni_con1.”
That is, until now!
Just a few hours ago, a public Facebook post appeared on the wall of Vijay Anand, founder at The Startup Centre, detailing his discovery that the Twitter handle, “uni_con1” aka Unicon Baba belongs to Rajan Gupta, Director at U2opia Mobile.
In a detailed Facebook post titled, “The Not-so Secret Identity of Twitter Troll: Unicon Baba,” Vijay explained how his quest to find the real identity of UniconBaba came to fruition.
Vijay Anand who apart from being the Founder of The Startup Centre, a startup advisor and a mentor, also runs an email newsletter, noticed that whenever he sent out his newsletter, a tweet would come in from Unicon Baba. Intrigued by the coincidence, he segmented his newsletter batches by time and figured out the batch whose timings matched with UniconBaba’s tweet timing.
He then went on to try a quick hack by trying to reset uni_con1’s listed email id on Twitter! It was a Gmail email id, for which he then tried the password recovery option. The retrieval address popped up as a masked email – “email@example.com”. Vijay then matched this email id pattern with his narrowed down newsletter database. And voila! The actual email id was revealed as that of Rajan Gupta’s.
“Ladies and Gentleman, the baba: Rajan Gupta (Yep, I expected some high funda dude. At the end it is some imposter at some dead-end job. That, was a bit of a let-down.),” wrote Vijay Anand on his Facebook.
— Unicon Baba (@uni_con1) March 19, 2016
Last year we did 2 investments announced 1. This year we are aiming 3 – 4.
— Unicon Baba (@uni_con1) April 23, 2017
First deal of FY18 near closure.
— Unicon Baba (@uni_con1) April 23, 2017
We were successfully able to replicate the process mentioned by Vijay as well.
Interestingly, Unicon Baba is inspired by Silicon Valley’s long-time anonymous Twitter handle, Startup L. Jackson, as per reports. The man behind Startup L. Jackson came forward last year and turned out to be Parker Thompson, a Partner at AngelList.
Vijay further went on to justify his motivation behind publicly revealing the identity of the anonymous Twitter handle. He wrote,
So, Why am I sharing this?
- I absolutely believe in an ecosystem that communicates. It is important that we pull up people if we see something wrong. So please do so – and continue to do so, but there are some rules to it.
- We are an ecosystem that has taken $90bn in funding, and have managed to return 16bn$ so far. Less than 30% of what has been raised has been returned and money has stopped coming into the ecosystem – as much as 3 years ago. We do not know how to build startups in India yet, by large. It is even more so important for us to be able to talk openly (without the fear of getting trolled).
- Have the guts to talk to people with your name attached. You cant ask for transparency when you cant even reveal your name to others.
- Even when confronting others, you can use some decorum. Calling abusive names, isn’t done – and only adds poison to the ecosystem.
- In the lack of the above, most people will simply resort to disengaging from these platforms – which are a great equaliser, especially for entrepreneurs who aren’t in the metros, and get to learn from the insights shared. We are robbing them of that privilege.
- In short : If you are going to say something in public, put your name to it, or don’t say it at all. I am all for having a conversation, but hiding behind an anon name and lashing out, aint cool.
It is officially troll hunting season, it turns out.
An email sent to Unicon Baba and Rajan Gupta didn’t elicit any response at the time of publication. Though both have received the mail and have read the email, coincidently at the exact same time. (We used Mailtrack, an email extension that provides read receipts while sending the email. The extension sends out a notification whenever a sent email is read.)
So, Who’s Rajan Gupta?
An ex-Paytm employee, Rajan Gupta, who before becoming the Director at U2opia Mobile, had founded a startup by the name Zappka in August 2016. He founded the startup along with Sumit Arora in 2014 and had raised seed funding of about $100K from former Line Corp India team, Damandeep Singh Soni and Rajat Gupta along with other High Networth Individuals. He had founded another startup by the name “Bestdaam.com” in 2011 and shut it down in 2014. As per his LinkedIn, he is currently the founder at Zappka. However, the startup’s website doesn’t seem to up at the moment and the official app on Google Play Store was last updated on May 20th, 2016.
While the Twitterati might be abuzz with this alleged revelation, this so-called hack may not be a completely accurate method. We have reached out to Rajan as well as U2opia for their comment on this accusation.
Unicon Baba is not the only one. Twitter handles like “Next Big Twat,” “India’s Dark Belly” have also been consistently posting scoops and gossips from the Indian startup industry.
It is to be also noted that, Praveen Sinha, Ex-CEO Jabong had earlier filed a complained before the Economic Offences Wing and a local police station in Delhi against Unicon Baba. The complaint had been filed under the IPC and the Information Technology Act against false and defamatory tweets being posted against him. Even Sinha’s lawyers had written to Twitter seeking the identity of Unicon Baba and the location from which the tweets are posted.
In case Unicon Baba turns out to be Rajan, there might be some trouble heading his way as there might be many others out there baying for blood against the infamous Twitter handle!
Update 1: 10:50 am, 19th May
In an emailed response to Inc42, Rajan said,
“I have just reached Dubai from Oman. Can I revert by morning. Sounds absurd to me. If your email is gup***** and you are in Vijay Anand database you are unicon baba. Anyways I am enjoying the attention.”
Interestingly, Unicon Baba had changed his recovery email address as soon as the news surfaced.
— Vijay Anand (@vijayanands) May 19, 2017
While we were able to replicate the same process earlier yesterday night, the hack doesn’t seem to be working anymore as practically any email id can be entered in the email recovery option. However, Anand had also made a video of his initial exploits, which can be seen below.
Posted by Vijay Anand on Thursday, May 18, 2017