Content Warning: This article's contents could leave some readers feeling uncomfortable, as it includes some antisemitic quotes and other abusive language. TheGamer apologizes if that happens to be the case.
Echo Fox shareholder Amit Raizada claimed his recent uncouth display was just a one-time, spur-of-the-moment affair, after being accused of racially abusing former Los Angeles Lakers star and eSports organization founder Rick Fox. However, a former business partner has revealed that Raizada has a history of such behavior.
Real-Estate investor Michael Gortenburg was in business with Raizada for 10 years and, for some time, Raizada led Gortenburg to believe that he was a 1/3 owner in a company called Spectrum Business Ventures. Gortenburg would later find out he was being swindled and exploited by Raizada.
Gortenburg spoke to TheGamer at length recently, making several startling revelations about the man who's been forced into the public eye after getting called out by Fox, as well as Echo Fox CEO Jace Hall.
While Gortenburg has had no direct involvement in Echo Fox, he was able to speak to Raizada’s character, having been a victim of abuse himself. He claims that they were close friends - at least he thought so - until Raizada developed a habit of heading to Las Vegas on weekends and literally spending hundreds of thousands in clubs, bringing tall bottles of expensive champagne back with him and even bragging about it.
“There was one weekend when he spent over $400,000 in Las Vegas,” Gortenburg told TheGamer over the phone. "When it happened, he kind of lost his filter and started to do some things that, in my opinion, exposed his true nature. He was belligerent, he was abusive, he was a complete bully."
"He started to lose it during that time and during the last year or so is when he sent David Vittor the antisemitic text, he sent my son an antisemitic text telling him he should burn in the camps, that kind of thing."
“We always knew that he had problems, but there was never any hint of the antisemitism or the racism until he started the clubbing and his filter fell off. And he exhibited it on a fairly regular basis, some of the text messages you’ve seen."
The extent of Raizada’s conduct was not limited to racism or antisemitism, he issued threats too.
“He threatened my business partner. Physically threatened him and said he'd piss on him,” Gortenburg added.
Gortenburg, who says he will have to live with the consequences of getting involved with someone like Amit, also detailed the latter's untoward financial practices, with claims of misappropriation of funds and even deceiving his own wife before they separated.
According to Gortenburg, Amit would come into the office on a Monday, ask his staff which companies had money in them (companies which invested in his business) and then use it to pay his weekend debts even though the chosen company had nothing to do with the money he'd spent.
"I get asked the question ‘Why isn’t this person in jail?’ But I really can’t say,” Gortenburg admitted. “I can tell you some of the egregious acts that he’s committed but I’m not into federal prosecution so I really don’t know."
He claims that he has nothing to gain from his coming out to speak about Amit; he’s simply hoping that the sharing of his unpleasant experience will help prevent another person from falling victim. He’s also looking to put on record that the more recent incidents involving Fox and Hall were not fleeting and that Amit has a long history of such distasteful behavior.
“I’m just trying to stop the madness because when I read the stuff about him calling Jace Hall the N-word and Rick Fox accusing him of the same thing, it just brought it all back again," he explained. "Amit’s trying to portray it as a one-off thing, but it’s not; it’s repetitive, historical behavior and I just felt it was important to come forward and say, ‘Hey, this is who he was.’"
“All those things you’ve seen that he’s said to Rick Fox and Jace Hall, that’s just something that he did on a regular basis once he lost his filter. To a secretary, or to his partners, it didn’t really make a lot of a difference."
Fox, meanwhile, had initially threatened to walk away from Echo Fox but has decided to remain put and fight to get Raizada out.
"At times, if you don't pick up the fight yourself, there's a chance that situation, or that individual, may go on to hurt others,” the former NBA forward said on the GG Podcast (via Gameindustry.biz). “They may go on to continue to think it's okay to conduct themselves that way."
"So I made the decision that I'm going to fight, I'm going to stand in this situation, and I'm going to fight to the last bone of marrow that I have in this situation, to get this person out of Echo Fox, to get this company in a situation where it moves forward."
Michael Gortenburg's closing statement sums it up best.
"They say if you want to predict a person’s future, look at their past. Well, his past is exactly that and he just repeated it.”
These revelations certainly leave Amit Raizada in a bad light. There’s no place in the gaming industry, or any industry for that matter, for racism, antisemitism, or threats. Most of what Michael told us is part of public record as the courts became involved over the years.
There is still an ongoing matter between the two parties that Gortenburg was not able to share details on due to confidentiality reasons. But the pattern seems pretty clear.