In the blink of an eye, a 20-year old relationship is gone, yet hostilities remain between Amit Raizada and Rick Fox. What has happened between the former investor in the esports organizations Echo Fox and its namesake at first appeared to be about Raizada's racist comments and at times despicable behavior directed towards Jace Hall, Rick Fox, and others in the organization. However, Raizada has come forward with allegation detailing unpaid debts and disagreements in regard to managing the company.
With Rick Fox and his son taking to Twitter posting screenshots of criminal and civil records from Raizada’s past, Raizada approached Upcomer to tell his side of the story.
Here is what he had to say.
“Go look at the video ESPN did with us at Undefeated. Go look at what he wrote in the Players’ Tribune about us,” Raizada opened. “We were friends then for about 17 years and now all this?”
In the video titled “The Business Behind Echo Fox, Rick Fox’s Esports Team” produced by ESPN for their Undefeated segment Fox is on video at the 2:14 mark saying, “The first person I turned to, to advise me and has supported me for 17 years, my business friend and partner was Amit Raizada.”
Additionally, in a piece penned by Fox that landed in The Players’ Tribune on February 20, 2017, he wrote, “What I admire most about Amit are his vision, integrity and transparency, his knowledge of how to correctly structure deals, and his confidence.”
But things have changed since then.
“I was there when he wanted to talk about his girlfriend or other issues. We had kids that were similar in age so we talked a lot of parenting stuff.”
After a two-year hiatus, Fox, Raizada and Khalid Jones were given an opportunity to buy Gravity Gaming in 2015 and join Riot’s League Championship Series.
“Riot offered Rick, me, and Khalid Jones an opportunity to buy Gravity,” Amit relayed. “Me and Khalid negotiated the deal and were the only ones that actually put money into the deal.”
Raizada and Jones both offered up $1 million each to get the new team off the ground.
“Rick has never put in any of his own money into Echo Fox, not one dollar of his own cash.”
After the three acquired Gravity, they rebranded to Echo Fox.
“We rebranded Gravity to Echo Fox and then we brought in some investors alongside it,” Raizada described. “We raised $4 million dollars which I participated in. However, I am not an operator, so I needed help and brought in a close friend.”
That friend was Stratton Sclavos, former Chairman and CEO of VeriSign Inc. and former owner of the San Jose Sharks.
“This guy was the third man hired at Verisign and took it to a $25 billion-dollar market cap,” Raizada said. “Stratton then raised $11 million dollars from partners like the Yankees and Stratton’s deal was that if he raised the money he got to operate the business.”
After the announcement and money raised by Sclavos, Forbes wrote a piece valuing the Echo Fox brand at around $150 million dollars.
“Around mid-2018 Rick started sending crazy emails to me, Stratton, and others saying he wanted to come in and operate the business,” Raizada said “He started to see there was a lot of publicity around it and Rick always wants to be the center of attention.”
It was at this point Raiazada says that he and a few other investors wanted out of Echo Fox because they didn’t trust Fox to run the business. He started buyout negotiations with Fox.
“Rick got frustrated, but after a three month negotiation we agreed on a buyout price and he agreed to pay $10 million to buy me out. He got two companies to give him the $5 million up front and I financed the other $5 million.”
According to Raizada, Fox went out and borrowed the initial $5 million, and about when the other $5 million came due, Fox released the infamous email where Raizada referred to Jace Hall as the n-word.
“I felt like Jace Hall and I were close friends. I’m the one that invested in his businesses, this may not mean much to some, but if I were a racist why would I get into business with Jace and Rick,“ Raizada opined. “Regardless, I was very upset and I shouldn’t have written that email or used that word.”
Raizada told Upcomer that he has anger management issues which he is seeking help with. It was the $30 million dollars he says Jace Hall lost that sent him over the edge.
“Jace lost $30 million dollars and it evaporated over an 18-month period. We picked the wrong game. That H1Z1 league blew through money and that fighting championship stuff that he brags about, never made a single dollar.”
Raizada says that Hall made a flurry of mistakes.
“He should have gone with Twitch, but instead went to Facebook with his friend, which everybody knew was a mistake. I confronted him about it and he blamed me saying that I raised the money I should be responsible. I couldn’t believe it.”
That’s when the email chain containing Raizada’s epithet was created. Raizada lost his cool and behaved in a reprehensible way, according to Raizada.
“That's when I said what I said, and I shouldn't have said it. It was wrong. It was out of character. It was stupid. I apologize. No one seems to have seen the apology.”
Upcomer can confirm an apology was sent. In a document acquired by Upcomer, one lawyer characterization of the apology was, “We recognize that Amit is trying to apologize in that email, which appears to be well crafted by some legal team.”
The apology reads:
Jace, I am writing on a personal note to sincerely apologize for my derogatory email that I sent to you on Monday, April 1st. Since the moment I hit “send” on the email, I have regretted it. It was inappropriate and insensitive. And while not an excuse, I was clearly upset and distressed about the business issues between us leading up to that email. I think you know me well enough to know the last thing I am is a racist, especially given the challenges that I have had to overcome in my life given my heritage. That is all the more reason why I should have been more respectful to you. In retrospect, it was wrong, I apologize and commit to you that I will not let that happen again.
Raizada then explains the ramifications of his email.
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“Regardless of all that happened, Rick took the email and said he is going to take it to the press unless I waive the $5 million he owed me. I just told him I'm not waiving the $5 million because of the threat.”
Raizada claims that what Fox was doing was civil extortion by threatening to go to the press to get him to waive the $5 million dollars Raizada said Fox owed him at that point. However since, that debt and the debt of Twin Galaxies and HD Films has now been taken on by a company called Eleven stones. The CEO of Eleven Stones is Ravi Srivastava, Raizada’s brother in law.
“Lawyers got involved telling me I should sue Rick for Civil extortion, but we had been friends for about 20 years so I said no we can work it out,” Raizada explained. “Then after about a month of him trying to get me to waive the $5 million, he takes the email and leaks it to Dexerto. We know that happened for a fact.”
Raizada believes there may have been a conspiracy to defraud him of the $5 million dollars between Fox and Dexerto.
“So Fox leaks it out Dexerto and we've got some other information that we're going to be sending out shortly saying how it was all conspired deal of trying to get rid of $5 million worth of debt to me.”
Upcomer has found out that the Raizada’s accusation surrounds a company called Field Level Media, a company that creates written content for outlets such as the New York Times and ESPN through Reuters.
Field Level Media lists Dexerto and Twin Galaxies as their esports contributors that either create original pieces for FLM or simply allows them to take content and post it.
“FLM is on the forefront of the booming esports content landscape. Our dedicated esports wire includes coverage of titles including Overwatch, Call of Duty, CS:GO, Dota2, League Of Legends, NBA 2K League, FIFA, eMLS, Madden and more. Along with in-house content, FLM’s esports wire includes content from the industry insiders at Dexerto.com and TwinGalaxies.com.”
Three articles pertaining to the controversy have been published at ESPN produced by Field Level Media.
Dexerto gave comment to the accusation:
"We worked briefly with Field Level Media in early 2018, where we had a very basic content syndication agreement. That agreement was terminated/expired in Q2 of 2018.
Since then we've had extremely limited contact with Field Level Media, except for a brief email exchange unrelated to our prior agreement, or any kind of business arrangement or collaboration between our two parties.
We do not have a working relationship with Field Level Media and it wasn't until we were approached for comment that we realised we were referenced on their website — a reference we've now asked to be removed because it's completely erroneous, given we've not worked together for well over a year.
There is no conspiracy. We broke a story which we did due diligence on. Other outlets chose to run with it at their own discretion. We, Dexerto, did not author or create any content on this subject for any other outlet to publish, nor did we advocate for any other outlet to run the story."
The accusations, according to Raizada, now take a devious turn.
“Rick tried to extort family members of mine telling them he was going to drag them through the mud. My family members couldn’t understand what was happening.”
Raizada went on to say that the two families had spent Christmases and Thanksgivings together. They had traveled together.
“This really hurt,” Raizada said.
And then Raizada says he watched Fox’s “Interview” on Richard Lewis' show.
“One of the things that is really bothering me is how he [Fox] says I placed myself on top of the stack. That's not what happened,“ Raizada rebuked. “What happened was Echo Fox had $6 million in loans and they couldn't afford to pay those loans back. And we were in material breach according to Riot’s licensing agreement.”
Raizada contends that Echo Fox was in material breach because organizations are not allowed to have over $1 million dollar in loans and the company was $6 million in debt. While the debt has been confirmed by Upcomer, we were not able to confirm the material breach components.
“Rick basically took a company worth $150 million dollars and blew through all the money and didn’t have any cash whatsoever.”
According to Raizada, Echo Fox needed money quickly or the organization would be subject to being taken by Riot. He says Fox has misrepresented what happened with the new investors and their money.
“So other members came in and put in another $4 million on top of that $6 million in the same equity position,” Raizada explained. “There is a preferred treatment where the initial investors get their money back first, but Rick doesn't have the facts straight. He is being misleading and looking for that last bit of camera time.”
While most people think it was the racist epithet email that caused Riot to threaten to take Echo Fox’s slot, Raizada paints a different picture.
“The email started an investigation. The material breaches that occurred with Echo Fox were that they did not have $5 million dollars in liquidity, had a loan over $1 million dollars, and when Rick converted investors from debt to equity, there were some that become more than 10% owners. You cannot give away more than 10% without prior approval from Riot.”
Raizada blames Fox for creating three material breaches and says those were the reason for the sale, not the email.
“All Rick wanted to do was say he got the racist out. I am Indian by descent. However, I did make a racist comment and it was wrong and terrible. I get that, “Raizada explained. “But all these accusations are just false.”
“Oh, and about that Operating Agreement he says I doctored, that is a lie. I have the email showing Khalid and I worked on it together.”
Upcomer can confirm the email.
“Rick signed a complete release on all claims that he’s even talking about. He is trying to drag my name through the mud for saving the company six months ago when they didn’t have any money and were about to go bankrupt.”
Upcomer is in the midst of conducting its own investigation regarding this matter.