RoomLion cofounder Ashish Agrawal has accused Housing.com and Rahul Yadav of copying their 360 degree virtual tours product during acquisition discussions in March 2014. At that point, Housing had nearly acquired RoomLion, a service apartment booking site that provided what was then a unique 360 degree room view in its listings. Agrawal says that during advanced negotiations and discussions regarding their acquisition, Housing representatives came over to RoomLion’s offices and studied details of their internal processes. They never came back after the discussion, but Housing launched their own service apartment rental feature a few months later.
In June 2013, Ashish Agrawal had met Housing founder Rahul Yadav. During the meeting, Rahul Yadav had expressed “extreme curiosity” over the 360-degree virtual tours that RoomLion was creating for each listing. Agrawal, an ex-Googler, says he hadn’t been impressed by Yadav’s hubris – he’d claimed that Housing had a better engineering team than Google India, and said that he knew all the “low achievers that Google India has hired from IIT.”
His subsequent interactions with Yadav weren’t pleasant either. While visiting the company’s offices in Hiranandani, a security guard had asked Yadav to sign the entry register. When the guard asked him if he was an employee of Housing, Yadav reportedly laughed and condescendingly said “Arre Malik hain Malik (I’m the owner)”. Agrawal says he walked away from the meeting thinking Rahul Yadav was a jerk.
Nearly a year later, Housing offered to acquire RoomLion.
After some back and forth, Agrawal agreed to the terms. A few days later, 4 people from Housing (including Rishabh Gupta who later served as Housing’s interim CEO and Harsh Maheshwari who later led Housing’s temporary housing vertical) visited the RoomLion office in Pune. They pored over all financial documents, their data collection forms and their internal dashboards. They also make copies of all of these documents.
Following which they disappeared.
A few months later, Housing came up with its own serviced apartment vertical. “The data fields for listings were similar to RoomLion listings. They provided 360-degree virtual tour for each listing just like RoomLion. But their listings suffered from major quality control issues, duplication, data inaccuracies and inflated prices. Aspects that they could not have copied from the brain rape and would have needed the team who had experience in dealing with such issues.”, says Agrawal.
We have contacted Housing for comment and will update the article when we hear from them.