The CEO of London augmented reality startup Blippar, Ambarish Mitra, has quietly updated his LinkedIn profile after a Financial Times investigation found he had made some misleading statements about his life story.
Mitra updated his profile to alter the dates he was studying at the University of London, and his role at travel startup Isango, according to the investigation.
Mitra originally claimed to have studied at Birkbeck College in London from 1999 to 2002 — but he had also claimed in the media to be running a startup called womeninfoonline in India at the same time. After the newspaper pointed this out to Mitra, he apparently updated his LinkedIn profile with new dates. Now, his profile states he was studying at Birkbeck from 2002 to 2004.
The Financial Times was also unable to find evidence of Mitra’s involvement with womeninfoonline at all. He has claimed that he floated the business, but its current owner, Mudra Consultants, denied any connections with Mitra at all. Mitra said he had documents proving his connection to the business, but did not provide them to the newspaper.
In his original LinkedIn profile, Mitra had also claimed to be the third employee at Isango, working at the company from 2006 to 2008. He also wrote that the business had been sold to Thomas Cook, according to The Financial Times.
Isango was in fact sold to rival travel group TUI in 2013. Mitra told the newspaper that his profile was out of date and he “had to update it with more relevant stuff.”
The Financial Times also found instances of confused reporting by the tech press in relation to Mitra’s past achievements. A TechCrunch report called him the founder of Swiftcover, saying that Mitra was responsible for the company’s sale to AXA Insurance. Mitra was, in fact, the head of innovation, and the business had been sold in 2007, two years before he joined.
Mitra has consistently claimed a connection with Delhi’s slums, saying he ran away to the slums from a middle-class upbringing in Dhanbad, in eastern India. This is difficult to prove or disprove, though the two cities are more than 1,000km apart. The Financial Times found stories differ — some reports suggest Mitra’s family had already moved to Delhi before he ran away.
Blippar was unable to immediately respond to a request for comment.
Sources speaking to the newspaper state that Mitra is a “disarming” man and “charismatic.”
He wouldn’t be the first high-profile tech figure to have embellished his CV.
Joanna Shields, minister for internet safety and security, failed to correct reports that she was managing director of Google’s European arm, according to a Daily Mail investigation. She was, in fact, one of several middle managers as a managing director for syndication, business development for Google Europe, Russia, Middle East and Africa. Still, it doesn’t seem to have done her career any harm. She was appointed OBE in 2014 for services to digital industries and voluntary services to young people.
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