A Bangladeshi-American son to immigrants, Fahim Saleh worked on projects to “change countries” in the developing world, and was a co-founder of Gokada and Pathao
Ruby Angela Saleh, the sister of the brutally murdered tech entrepreneur Fahim Saleh recently recollected memories and anecdotes through a post on Medium. In the heartbreaking read, Ruby Angela Saleh recalled many incidents from their childhood and narrated the tales about her brother.
Fahim Saleh was in 5th grade when he launched his first "business."
He and his young friend would sell candy they bought in bulk at the local dollar store on their school playground in upstate New York. The school principal shut down their operation after three weeks. But by that time they had already raked in $150, Saleh recounted in a video last year.
More than 20 years and several successful tech start-ups later, the 33-year-old entrepreneur's life was cut short in July when he was found dismembered at his luxury New York City apartment.
But as news stories about Saleh continue to make headlines, those who knew him say the young man was more than just his success or horrific demise.
"In recent years, he was maturing not just professionally, but personally. He was so excited about decorating his new apartment and would discuss throw pillows with our mother over Facetime," Ruby Angela Saleh wrote.
"He was developing his passion for cooking, working on improving his running performance, and taking care of his three-year-old pomsky, Laila. He was creating structure and stillness in his life, neither of which came easily to him."
Those who knew Saleh say he was a proud and hardworking entrepreneur who was dedicated to his projects and loved ones.
In her Medium post, Ruby Saleh recalled getting the phone call on July 14 from her aunt, who told her that her brother had been killed. She instantly jumped on the phone with their sister, who confirmed the devastating news. She struggled to believe it.
"I dropped the phone and crawled onto the wooden floor, touching its cold, hard surface with the palms of my hands," she wrote.
"I looked up at my husband. He was already crying, as if he had accepted these words about my brother as truth."
Fahim Saleh was born in Saudi Arabia to Bangladeshi parents and raised in upstate New York. A Bangladeshi-American son to immigrants, Saleh worked on projects to "change countries" in the developing world
Ruby Saleh wrote that her brother's energetic spirit caused him to throw himself into his projects from a young age. After having his candy project shut down, he started making jewelry and selling that instead, she said.
His entrepreneurial spirit blossomed in his teens when he started developing a network of social media apps from his parent's home. In 2006, Saleh's first company, Wizteen, Inc., made more than $400,000, according to old tax filings he shared on Instagram. He was only a high school senior at the time.
"From the time he discovered the Internet until the time I last saw him, my brother could get so lost in his work that the sun could come up before he realized he had skipped both lunch and dinner," Ruby Saleh wrote.
His commitment worried their father, also a programmer, who often had to remind him to eat.
"How will I survive knowing that I never again have to worry about what my Famy ate today?" Ruby Saleh recalled her father asking her last month.
In 2010, after graduating from Bentley University in Massachusetts, Saleh launched TapFury, a company responsible for the wildly popular PrankDial app, which allowed for people to make anonymous prank phone calls.
While lucrative, the app also ensnared Saleh in a legal battle after the deputy director of New Jersey's Hudson County jail used it to entrap two of his officers by secretly recording their conversation and using it against them, according to documents filed in New Jersey federal court.
The jail official, Kirk Eady, was eventually sentenced to 21 months jail time on wiretapping charges in 2015. When Eady was released, he sued Saleh in a case that is still pending, alleging he was misled about the legality of the app.
Undeterred, Saleh went on to found co-found Pathao, a motorbike ride-hailing service in Bangladesh and then Gokada, a similar venture in Lagos, Nigeria.
In Lagos, Gokada launched a fleet of 1,000 "pilots" outfitted with branded motorcycles and safety gear to provide rides to locals through an app.
In February, due to policy changes in Lagos, Gokada was forced to shift away from taxi services to providing delivery services.
In the last video that Saleh posted on Youtube, he talked about how the ban on motorbike ride-shares like Gokada was disrupting his mission of providing jobs to locals in Nigeria.
"This has definitely been a blow," Saleh said in the video, adding that the work of entrepreneurs "change countries" and should be supported.
"The drivers at Gokada, they weren't there just because they wanted to make money. They were there because they had families, they had children, they had dreams," Saleh said.
Saleh's social media gave the world an inside look at his jet-setting, yet family-oriented life Saleh did not shy away from giving the world an inside look at his life, success, and family.
In 2016, he posted a Youtube video in which he and his two sisters — Riff and Ruby — arrived at their parents' modest apartment and told their dad by phone that the needed to bring them cash for their Uber.
When he got outside, Saleh surprised him by gifting him a new Tesla Model S for Father's Day.
Saleh's public profiles on Instagram and Youtube shared an inside look at young tech mogul's life with the world.
In between photos of jet-setting between business trips and vacations, working out, and playing the ukulele, Saleh's Instagram told the story of a tight-knit Bangladeshi-American family.
Eight months ago, Saleh proudly shared a night shot of the 10-story brick and glass apartment building where he owned a $2 million apartment on the 7th floor.
A horizontal sign that spanned more than three floors prominently displayed "265 East Houston Street," the address where one of his sisters made an unexpected visit on Tuesday and discovered a gruesome crime scene.
Saleh's cousin disrupted the killer's plan to destroy his body, police say
On the afternoon of his killing, after not hearing from her Saleh for a day, his cousin made a visit to his apartment, Ruby said.
When she arrived, at around 3:30 p.m., she discovered his dismembered body. An electric saw was still plugged in, the New York Times reported.
Surveillance video viewed by the police shows that the killer, who was dressed in all black and wearing a mask, had followed Saleh into an elevator a day earlier.
Detectives told The Daily Beast that Saleh appeared uneasy when the man appeared not to know how to use the building's elevator and the two had exchanged words.
When Saleh arrived at his apartment, which occupied the whole 7th floor, the man followed him off, trapping him, according to the Daily Beast.
Using what police believe was a stun gun, the killer demobilized Saleh, and at sometime later stabbed him several times, the Daily Beast reported.
The killer likely waited overnight before using the saw to dismember Saleh, police told the Daily Beast.
The visit from his cousin, who Ruby identified as "A" seemed to interrupt an attempt to destroy the body and leave no evidence of Saleh's killing, according to police.
Laila was found alive in the apartment, according to the New York Times.
Police have since arrested Tyrese Devon Haspil, 21, for the murder.
The motive was financial, police said. Saleh had discovered that Haspil had "stolen tens of thousands of dollars from him," though the two were thought to have worked out a repayment plan.
"While we were growing up, I felt more like a mother to Fahim than a sister. When he was a toddler too wild to finish a meal, I ran after him with spoonfuls of rice and chicken," Ruby Saleh wrote.
"I gave him baths, I changed his diapers, and I was petrified the first time I saw his nose bleed."
"Thirty years later, I was learning that Fahim's head and limbs had been discarded in a trash bag," she added.
"Someone had cut my brother's body into pieces and tossed the pieces into a garbage bag, as if his life, his body, his existence had had no meaning or value."
The family is still in mourning. Two days after her brother was killed, Ruby Saleh was sitting with her cousin and sister when she got a call from the funeral home. Due to Covid-19, she would have to identify her brother's remains by photo. Minutes later, she received the image of her brother, "lifeless."
When her father came into the room, she quickly turned off the computer, realizing she can never tell him what she saw. She can never tell him what she saw, she wrote.
It has been just under a month since Fahim Saleh's funeral.
These days his father spends most days with Laila "speaking to her in the same affectionate tone he reserved for my brother," Ruby Saleh wrote.
"My mother spends her days crying. At night, she cannot sleep."
Ruby lives abroad, in a country on the other side of the Atlantic where it's warm year-round, she wrote. Last week she considered hosting Thanksgiving, their family's favorite holiday, at her home. She expects the day to be difficult this year.
"Fahim always made the garlic mashed potatoes, while I made the stuffing and my sister made her famous mac and cheese," she said.
"Maybe in this new setting, we will all feel a bit less heartbroken when Fahim doesn't tear through our parents' kitchen door, running behind schedule, letting in the cold air behind him, throwing his jacket and bag on the floor, taking his place at the kitchen island, surrounded by his family, Googling garlic mashed potato recipes on his phone," she added.