Zain Jaffer, CEO Of Startup Vungle, Arrested And Charged With Sexually Abusing His Children
The CEO of a mobile ad startup has been arrested and charged with sexually abusing his three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter and three other felonies.
Zain Jaffer's arrest, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, was confirmed through an "inmate locator" on the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office website on Friday and by the San Mateo County District Attorney, Steve Wagstaffe.
Wagstaffe said 29-year-old Jaffer was charged with two counts of child abuse, against his son and daughter, as well as oral copulation of a person under 14, lewd act upon a child and assault likely to produce great bodily injury. An initial charge of attempted murder was dropped after the district attorney determined there was not enough evidence to support it. (An earlier version of this story said Jaffer faced a charge of attempted murder.)
Jaffer was also charged with misdemeanor battery upon a police officer and emergency personnel.
He was arraigned on Tuesday, and at the defense's request, did not enter a plea, Wagstaffe said.
In an email to Forbes, Jaffer's attorney, Daniel Olmos said: "Mr. Jaffer has pleaded not guilty and he will not comment publicly at this time."
Wagstaffe said police arrested Jaffer at his family's house in Hillsborough, a tony community some 18 miles south of San Francisco, on October 15 at 4 am. The police were called to the house by Jaffer's father, Wagstaffe said. When officers arrived at the house, they found Jaffer engaged in the illegal contact with the minors, he added.
Jaffer is being held in San Mateo's County Jail on $300,000 bail. He is set to appear in court on November 1st.
Vungle's board removed Jaffer after it found out about his arrest and appointed COO Rick Tallman to take his place. In a statement, Tallman said:
We are aware of the extremely serious allegations leveled against our former CEO, and we are shocked beyond words. While these charges are completely unrelated to his former role at the company, they are obviously so serious that it led to his immediate removal.
We learned of the allegations late Monday night, and convened a board meeting, removed him as CEO and I was appointed permanent CEO all within 24 hours. He did not step down for personal reasons as has been erroneously reported. We removed him as rapidly as possible.
The actions of one individual are in no way reflective of the almost 200 dedicated and hard-working people who work for Vungle. Everyone at the company is appalled and deeply saddened by these events.
Jaffer was named to the Forbes Under 30 list in 2012. Forbes covered Vungle, a video ad platform, that same year, when Jaffer and cofounder Jack Smith had raised a $2 million seed round. The startup had more recently claimed a run rate of $300 million. The company has since raised additional funds from investors that include Crosslink Capital, GV (formerly known as Google Ventures), 500 Startups, SoftTech VC and Thomvest Ventures.