This is an excerpt of a column I wrote on June 8, 2018, about the 11th Congressional District race in Wayne/Oakland counties for Dome Magazine.
… (Haley) Stevens emerged as the perceived frontrunner months ago after incumbent Rep. Dave Trott, a Birmingham Republican, had announced his retirement. But (Suneel) Gupta’s connections to tech industries and venture capital firms have provided big bucks and momentum. In an April poll, he was in a statistical dead-heat with Stevens.
Yet, Gupta has demonstrated a habit on the campaign trail of mashing together his past jobs in a way that misleads voters – sometimes in a rather significant manner.
Gupta claims that he built three companies “from the ground up” and created “thousands of good-paying” jobs in the process. He refers to the first startup where he worked as Mozilla Firefox, the Internet web browser. But Mozilla was already well-established when Gupta arrived there in 2008.
The second company he mentions is Groupon, the online coupon company, where he was hired as Vice-President of product development in 2009. Groupon soon became known as the fastest-growing company in U.S. history, rising from 300 employees to 11,000 in about three years.
The candidate takes credit for many of those jobs and, when he says he has experience “balancing budgets,” that’s a reference to financial matters within the company’s product development division, according to a campaign spokesman. Groupon’s spectacular rise was followed by a sudden crash. By 2012, Groupon’s financial situation was shaky as its stock price plummeted by 84 percent and never recovered. Gupta left the company later that same year.
What’s more, Gupta tells voters that he is the only candidate in the 11th District race that has experience in the healthcare business. He claims that a startup he created, called Rise, linked patients with healthcare providers. In reality, Rise created a mobile application for smartphones that linked those seeking dieting advice with “nutrition coaches.”
Gupta emphasizes that he originally came up with the idea of a diet app along with his much better-known brother, Sanjay, the medical correspondent for CNN. But Sanjay Gupta was never listed as a Rise founder, partner or adviser. Several months after Rise was acquired by a healthcare firm, Suneel Gupta left the company.
In addition to Rise, two startups that Gupta clearly helped create from the ground up involved a mobile app for video games and a firm that created videos of Indian Americans recounting their family’s history. Both companies appear to have gone dormant several years ago.
Continue reading here.