On April 25, Dexerto broke the story that the founder of esports organization Echo Fox, former NBA player Rick Fox, would be looking to stand down after a shareholder racially abused both him and the former CEO and Twin Galaxies custodian Jace Hall.
Following our report Echo Fox released a statement to several press outlets later that day confirming it as accurate. The statement read:
“There have been incidents in recent weeks in which a limited partner of the Echo Fox organization, who is not an employee, officer or director of Echo Fox, used a racial epithet towards individuals both verbally and via email. One such incident was detailed in media accounts today. And although that incident was not directed towards an employee, officer, member or shareholder of Echo Fox, racial intolerance connected to Echo Fox is entirely unacceptable. There have been other reported incidents where the shareholder in question used this same vile language towards Rick Fox personally. These incidents are especially significant for us as Echo Fox boasts an unparalleled level of diversity in its principal ownership group, management, leadership and player base. Upon being made aware of the incidents, the Company has made various demands to the offending investor, including the investor’s disassociation from the company and we are continuing to work diligently towards this end.”
Dexerto had been sent the email in question and confirmed its authenticity with sources familiar with the situation. While our own investigation continued we elected not to name the shareholder in question. Today, we have concluded all our investigations and can reveal that the individual at the center of the controversy is Amit Raizada.
Raizada is a founding partner at the Vision Venture Partners group that invested in Echo Fox following a $38 million raise of capital under the name Vision Esports.
The email exchange, dated April 1st, revolved around a dispute between Jace Hall and Raizada pertaining to some unfinished business relating to Twin Galaxies. In it, Raizada accused Jace Hall of lying in regards to a financial issue.
Jace Hall replied with a very brief email stating “I am no longer interested in this conversation.”
The final email in the chain was a reply from Raizada that said: “That’s because you’re a n****r.”
When we initially reached out for comment from Raizada he told us: “I don’t know what you are talking about,” and abruptly hung up the phone. Shortly after this we were contacted by the law firm Genovese, Joblove & Battista who issued the following statement on behalf of Mr. Raizada:
“We write on behalf of our client, Amit Raizada, in response to your request for comment on recent media accounts of racial statements and threats allegedly made by our client to Mr. Ulrich Fox and/or his family. First, Mr. Raizada has never used or made a racial epithet or statement towards Mr. Fox or anyone in his family. Moreover, Mr. Raizada has never threatened Mr. Fox or anyone in his family. Any allegations or suggestions to the contrary are simply false. In fact, Mr. Fox and Mr. Raizada had previously enjoyed a 20 year long deep personal friendship and have been and are currently involved in several business dealings together.”
Observing that the statement did nothing to address the email that Jace Hall had received, we patiently awaited further contact from the law firm. Instead, a separate PR firm, Digital Strategies, who provided a statement that expanded upon the Rick Fox allegations and the Jace Hall incident:
“Amit Raizada denies all of Rick Fox’s claims and has never used a racial epithet towards or threatened Rick Fox or anyone in his family. Until recently, Mr. Fox and Mr. Raizada enjoyed a 20-year friendship and business relationship. Mr. Raizada is saddened by the end of both."
With regard to Jace Hall, Raizada released the following statement:
“In a heated and contentious email exchange with Jace Hall several weeks ago, I lost my temper and used a racial epithet directed personally at him. I have apologized to Jace, and I would like to apologize to all. My language was wrong and there is no excuse for it. I have stepped down from all day-to-day decision-making with all entities in which Jace Hall and I were involved.”
Now that the incident is public it isn’t clear what happens next. While it sounds like Raizada is trying to retain his interest within the organization, the public revelation and admission may force him out in place of Rick Fox. One source we contacted told us “since the story came out publicly the shareholders have made it clear that they are behind Rick… It’s a complicated financial situation and Raizada will be hard to get rid of but more than a few people want it now.”
Adding pressure to the decision might very well be Riot Games who announced via their League of Legends Esports Twitter account they would be investigating the matter as a code of conduct violation. In two tweets they said: “We are aware of recent allegations of a team owner using offensive and discriminatory language. The LCS believes in creating a fair and inclusive environment for everyone and the alleged comments are contrary to our values and have no place in our league. We have launched an investigation into the allegations and will respond accordingly, based on available actions within our team agreements and the LCS Rules.” The statement was attributed to the LCS commissioner Chris Greeley.
We have launched an investigation into the allegations and will respond accordingly, based on available actions within our team agreements and the LCS Rules. -Chris Greeley, LCS Commissioner (2/2)
— lolesports (@lolesports) April 26, 2019
This isn’t the first time that Raizada has made headlines for controversial reasons, as reported by The Pitch. In 2014, he was sued by former business partners for: "Liquidating various accounts, making unauthorized loans to himself through the company, and racking up exorbitant tabs at restaurants and bars. (Raizada testified under oath that spending $100,000 or $200,000 in an evening at a club entertaining was “normal and ordinary business.")."
In 2017 the case was concluded and Raizada was hit with a $6 million verdict. He had also filed a countersuit against those same partners claiming they were guilty of the same accusations the court ruled in their favor for.
We will update this story as we have more information.