It’s like a scene out of TVF Pitchers. Two college friends start a company. Things are fine in the beginning, and the company’s going great guns. Over time though, differences occur. One of them quits in a huff. Friends and former colleagues battle over the ownership rights in court.
After its hugely popular take on India’s startup scene captured all the drama associated with entrepreneurship, TVF has a new resource to draw inspiration from – its own internal feud. TVF Founder Arunabh Kumar has been dragged to court by former colleague Prashant Raj. Raj, who quit the company in 2014, is demanding a 4% share in the company as well as cash compensation for his work with TVF.
TVF was founded in 2011 as a sole proprietorship. Raj joined in 2012, and soon after he left in 2014, TVF was incorporated as TVF Media labs. Raj’s contention is that he joined “pro-bono as a cofounder” and worked without a salary in lieu of equity in the business.
The origins of his claim lay in an oral agreement whose terms were incorporated in email exchanges between the litigants. Arunabh Kumar’s lawyers, however, argue that he was an early employee and not a cofounder. “The plaintiff is not eligible for any equity in the company as he is not a part of it any more,” said Vinduprakash Pandey, managing partner at Astute Law and counsel for Kumar.
The Bombay High Court ruled that subsequent events following the oral agreement meant that Raj’s claim on equity had no validity. “The only entitlement of the plaintiff would, therefore, be for compensation for the work done for the defendant in whichever capacity for about two years,” wrote judge Roshan Dalvi.
This month, Raj has appealed under against the ruling, demanding 4% equity in the new entity, as well as cash compensation. He also claims that credits for videos he produced are also being removed by TVF.
No matter which way the ruling goes, looks like TVF Pitchers has enough material for its next season.