- Fahim Saleh’s legs below the knees and arms had been removed, with body parts placed in trash bags.
Bangladeshi American entrepreneur Fahim Saleh was found murdered in his New York City apartment on July 14. Saleh, 33, was a venture capitalist and co-founder and CEO of Gokada, a Laos, Nigeria-based motorcycle ride-hail company. Saleh’s dismembered body was discovered by his sister at his home in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. She hadn’t heard from him for a day so she decided to stop by his apartment.
Gruesome news reports said Saleh’s legs below the knees and his arms had been removed and placed in trash bags. His torso was found in a room next to the living room. One source told the New York Post that the slaying appeared “professional” — noting that there was almost no blood in the apartment, which hadn’t been looted.
Saleh was last seen that afternoon on surveillance cameras getting into the elevator with the suspect. The suspect was reportedly carrying a bag and wearing a mask, gloves and a hat at the time. Police believe that Saleh was attacked as soon as he walked into his apartment. Quoting police, news reports say that an electric saw found near Saleh’s body was still plugged in.
Following the news of his murder, social media was inundated with condolence messages.
In a Facebook post, Shreya Sinha, National Operations Director of the New York Times, who has known Saleh for a decade, wrote that he was “an inspiration to me on how to embrace life.” She said Saleh’s is a “a rags to riches story of how a son of Bangladeshi immigrants learned to code at 16, sell companies in his teens and 20s, and make more than enough to take care of his entire family. But that was Fahim, forever humble, joyful and friendly — you would never think of his successes when you met him.”
Vinay Gokaldas, managing partner at ICGP Management Consultancy in Dubai wrote: “They said you werent Bangladeshi enough – so you went to Dhaka and grew the country’s most valuable startup Pathao. They said Africa was different and you didnt have the mindset for it. So you grew Gokada into a Lagos icon, a fabric of its identity. They shut you down and you grew it back as a different business.”
Saleh was born in July 1986 in Saudi Arabia. After a few years in the Middle East, his family settled in Dutchess County in Upstate New York. Although Saleh lists Poughkeepsie as his hometown on his Facebook page, the Poughkeepsie Journal reports that Saleh lived in Hopewell Junction and graduated in 2005 from John Jay High School.
There is not much information available on his family, but a report in The Sun identifies his sisters as Rif Saleh and Ruby Bashir. According to Rif Saleh’s Linkedin profile, she is a director at the marketing talent agency ES Creative, while it is unclear what Bashir does.
His Instagram page also shows photos and videos of his New York apartment, which he reportedly purchased for $2.25 million last year.
Earlier this year, the Nigerian government had banned Gokada. Several news reports and tweets from Saleh reveal that since then, the company faced severe setbacks. It was forced to layoff staff, and had to resort to being a delivery courier.
According to UK’s Daily Mail, “The ban came at a difficult moment for Gokada which had just raised $5.3 million in funding from Rise Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, in May 2019.”
In his last tweet, sent on July 5, Saleh asked his followers how trustworthy they found Gokada to be, in comparison to other Nigerian companies. In a July 2 tweet he confessed that “Nigeria is an unforgiving market,” while on June 29 he tweeted: “Any good product people in Lagos that want to build out Gsend or Gokada Business?”
However, a June 2 tweet show’s Saleh’s optimism despite all the troubles at Gokada. “’Have a very good feeling about 2020.,” he wrote.
The Post report quoted a longtime friend describing Saleh as “the Elon Musk of the developing world.”
‘A Rising Star in the Business World’
On Twitter, Saleh described himself as “an investor that finds things.” According to a blog on CMB (Champions’ Meal Blog), a Nigerian leadership blog, he grew up in a middle-class Bengali family with two sisters, and “always had the dream of earning money with novel ideas,” the blog said.
“It was while attending eighth grade in Poughkeepsie, New York, that his interest in computers developed from researching websites and reading about the Google founders and other players in the relatively new tech industry,” the blog said, and added that Saleh “credits his knack for technology to the hours he spent playing video games.”
While in school, he found PrankDial.com, a website for pre-recorded prank phone calls.
In a 2018 blog inMedium, Saleh wrote how he turned his passion project — PrankDial.com — into a multi-million-dollar product. “By the end of the first week, the site was generating about $20 per day.” he wrote. “I started doing social media promotions, and two weeks later, that number had climbed to $100 per day. And it kept growing. $300 a day. $600. $1,000.” Over its lifetime, PrankDial.com has generated more than $10 million.
However, UK’s Daily Mail reported that a former prison deputy director sued Saleh over PrankDial, claiming the app deceived him by making him think what he was doing was legal.
In eight grade, Saleh started with a simple site for his family — salehfamily.com.
He also started teenhangout.com, which ended up turning into a blogging forum for the community. The CMB blog says Saleh was drawing between $100,000 and $150,000 profit a year as he created websites that focused on young people.
It was in Bentley University in Boston, Massachusetts, that Saleh’s pursuit for success began. He graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors in Computer Information Systems (CIS). His college gigs included starting a customized t-shirt company with his roommate and initiating menuvo, a Facebook application that students could use for food delivery
During the economic crisis in 2008-09, Saleh tried his hand in making apps for the IOS app market. He was founding manager of HackHouse, a “tech incubator/venture factory focused in Bangladesh” and was CEO of TapFury, an entertainment company.
He was vice president of WizTeen, a “network of websites targeted towards teenagers.” He later went on to co-found Pathao, a ride-sharing company popular in Bangladesh and Nepal, in 2015.Most recently, he founded the venture capital firm Adventure Capital, which invested in ride-sharing start-ups in countries like Bangladesh and Colombia.He is also an active investor in emerging markets, investing first in Colombia’s largest motorcycle ride sharing company – Picap, recently valued at $15 million.