Singapore-based realty portal 99.co was forced to make an apology after its VP of Marketing Sonny Truyen posted offensive comments on Facebook about his inability to play Pokemon Go in the region.
According to E27.co Truyen is an Australian who came to Singapore to join 99.co as VP (Digital Marketing) just a week ago.
"'You can’t f***ing catch pokemon in this piece of f***ing s***t country”," e27 reports Truyen as posting. Singapore is one of the countries where the game is not available.
Not surprisingly, the post resulted in a stream of angry responses from locals, one of whom e27 says "engaged in an intense battle with Truyen and demanded he leave the country".
Once the incident reached the ears of top management at 99.co, E27 reports, Truyen was immediately shown the door with no further notice, all within 24 hours of his appointment.
Clearly, not the best hire the company has ever made, 99.co quickly apologised for Truyen's behaviour.
“I apologise on behalf of 99.co, we pride ourselves to be a principled company that celebrates values like diversity and equality," 99.co CEO Darius Cheung writes in an official blog post.
"We take responsibility for the public behaviour of any employee or consultant affiliated with us as a reflection of the company.
"We are truly sorry, do accept our apology,” the post reads.
“Insulting behaviour is not acceptable regardless of whether it came from a foreign person or from a local. And the truth is, everyone of us have our best and worst moments. It is a conscious choice we should all be making to focus on the positive.”
Recognising the racial slur as an issue, Cheung points out such challenges today in Singapore are still relatively small, compared to the systematic and fatal displays of discrimination in the US as an example.
“Our forefathers have worked hard to prevent the deadly racial riots of the 60s from repeating as well as designed policies and campaigns to ensure Singapore stays strong and tightly knitted," he writes.
"However, it seems lately the influx of foreigners has increasingly caused resentment.”
E27 argues "when compared to large companies, startups are more vulnerable to hate campaigns on social media.
"Early-stage ventures, which will often have to resort to mass firing and take other unpleasant decisions to keep the business abreast, come under fire from sacked employees," the article's writer Sainul Abudheen K observes.
"Employees take to social media to attack the company and the management, putting the brand at risk.
"Unruly behaviour can land anyone in trouble, even the CEO, as we have seen in the case of Rahul Yadav, Co-founder and former CEO of SoftBank-backed real estate startup Housing.com.
He was fired after he insulted the company Board and investors by calling them “intellectually incapable” in a Facebook post. After days of deliberations, the company stripped him of his role as CEO and fired.
Among other examples, Abudheen also gives , India's 99Acres as an example of a startup that witnessed discrimination of a religious nature.
"Three years ago, real estate platform had to remove an ad posted by a property dealer which carried a rider ‘Muslims not Allowed’,' he Abudheen claims in the e27 article.
"At a time when racism and intolerance are at its peak across the world, startups need to be very cautious in dealing with such situations," he concludes.