Tushar Atre was the CEO of a Santa Cruz digital marketing firm called AtreNet Inc. and owner of a cannabis business who was found dead after he was kidnapped from his home in California.
Atre was praised by friends for his spirituality, work ethic and kindness. But Atre appears to have developed some enemies during his business career. There were some scathingly negative reviews left on the Glassdoor website from former employees about his management style. “You reap what you sow. If you constantly insult your employees and clients with rude outbursts, you’ll get what you deserve in the end. Grow up!” read one such review.
“Get up. Surf. Make deals. Repeat,” Atre wrote on Twitter of his life in 2017. “Some people say they’re ‘always on the go,’ but I literally don’t stop moving from the minute I wake up. And my business is better for it.”
A body was found by police in the Santa Cruz Mountains on October 1. On October 2, authorities confirmed the identity of the body as Atre. “Sadly, the body found yesterday has now been identified as 50-year-old Tushar Atre,” the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department wrote. The body was found in a mountainous area about 10 miles from Atre’s home, The New York Times reported.
Authorities have not publicly identified a cause of death or suspect in the bizarre sequence of events, but they say they don’t think it was random. Atre’s tech company focuses on web design for other businesses. They say multiple suspects are involved.
Atre, 50, was taken from his home on the 3000 block of Pleasure Point Drive in Santa Cruz. His company’s website declares “Make your corporate website better than your company’s best spokesperson.” Atre was also in the cannabis business. The city of Santa Cruz confirmed he was “the owner of Interstitial Systems, which is a licensed cannabis manufacturer that operates out of a location on Fern street,” reported Kion456. Heavy has confirmed through state records that Atre was a licensed Cannabis distributor. His license was issued in August 2019:
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Say Atre Was ‘Taken From His Home’ in a White BMW & the Motive Might Be Robbery
The Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department released a photo of Atre and his girlfriend’s vehicle and reported that he had been kidnapped, writing, “KIDNAPPING: We need the public’s help in locating the victim of a kidnapping. The victim has been identified as 50-year-old Tushar Atre.”
Authorities added: “Around 3:00 a.m. this morning Tushar was taken from his home on the 3000 block of Pleasure Point Drive during a crime. He was last seen getting into his white 2008 BMW SUV license plate 7CUG581. If you have information on where the victim is or see the car please call 911.”
Authorities later gave a sad update. “We have some unfortunate news, we have found the car associated with this case along with a deceased person,” they wrote. They later said that person was Atre.
Police now say they think the motive might be robbery, but they’re not sure whether Atre’s cannabis business has anything to do with it, according to KION News. Several people were in the home at the time of the kidnapping, The New York Times reported. Atre shared photos of his home on Instagram, where he also posted numerous photos of the outdoors.
2. Some Who Knew Him Praised Atre as a Kind & Spiritual Person; He Entered the Marijuana Business a Year Ago
Atre’s friend, Robert Blumberg, explained to KSBW-TV: “A year or so ago, he started a marijuana or cannabis manufacturing company.”
“He’s definitely new to the industry. Basically, unfamiliar with the etiquette about how to do business. Unfamiliar with how, you know there are some are some, illegal black market elements in the cannabis industry and if you don’t pay them, bad stuff happens,” said Grant Palmer, CEO of CannaCruz, to the television station.
People who knew Tushar Atre shared thoughts about him on the Sheriff’s Department’s comment thread on the case. “He is a good kind hearted hard working spiritual person. My husband and I are devastated by this news. We hope he’s found,” wrote one woman.
“If you do not know or love Tushar, can you restrain from putting your theories or shallow comments please? His loved ones, including myself, are having a hard enough time not knowing if he is with us or not. Appreciate it,” wrote another.
“I’ve known to Tushar for quite a few years, He’s always been one of the most kind, generous, honest and trustworthy people I’ve had the honor of knowing,” a man wrote. “Yes there are horrible people In the world, some I would go as far as to call them predators and they look for people just like Tushar to take advantage of? I hope and pray that they catch them and bring them to justice.”
Friends were very engaged in trying to help find Atre. “We need everybody, all of our friends, the entire community, to get behind this effort… in finding Tushar,” said Christopher Lochhead in the video plea. The video has now been deactivated for public viewing.
“Somebody broke into his house last night and kidnapped him at 3 a.m. We have no idea why. We have no idea who. He was taken from his home.”
The video plea came before a body was found. “We need to help law enforcement because we need our friend back,” said Lochhead, his voice breaking with emotion. After the announcement that a body was found, Lochhead wrote on his Facebook page, “The sheriff’s dept is not telling us anything other than his GF’s car and a body were found. We are bracing for the worst and praying for the best.”
3. Atre, Who Wrote That He Ran an ‘Enterprise Web Agency,’ Loved Surfing & Mushroom Foraging
Atre’s Facebook page showed him fishing but not much else was publicly visible. When someone asked if he was fly fishing, he responded, “lucas’ magic lure, and my head was definitely spinning when i caught that trout!” He indicated on the page that he was interested in Chess.
On Twitter, Atre wrote, “Founder of @AtreNet, a boutique web design agency specializing in corporate websites for top Silicon Valley clients. Surfer. Mushroom forager. Always on the go.” He authored a series of Yelp reviews for area establishments.
“Up and at ’em early for #surfing. There’s nothing like starting your day off with the rush of the ocean. It’s better than coffee,” he wrote on Twitter in 2017. “Gathering my controversial thoughts on #recycling & #solar energy to post on Quora. Things we think help the #environment actually don’t,” he wrote in another tweet.
In a LinkedIn article, Atre described his company as an “enterprise web agency.” He offered people “elegant visuals, simple content, and user interaction.”
He listed his job as “Corporate Marketing Websites for Tech” and said that he was CEO at AtreNet, Inc., a position he had held for 23 years. He indicated that he also spoke German. The company bio reads, “It was May 1996. We drove 3000+ miles in under three days from NYC to Silicon Valley to make the meeting with Geoff Galat and his CMO Jayaram Bhat at Mercury Interactive. We worked with Mercury for 11 years all the way through the 5B acquisition by HP, and we’ve served thousands of corporate marketers just like them* ever since.”
Atre wrote blog posts on the company’s website. You can read them here.
In one post, Atre described himself this way: “The EPIC Score is a culmination of the 20+ years Tushar has been principal at AtreNet, Silicon Valley’s enterprise web agency. When he’s not pushing his team to bend the limits of quality, speed, and value to ensure the best possible outcomes for clients, you can find Tushar surfing in Santa Cruz. The AtreNet team figured it out early — live where you love, and create the rest from there. You can ask Tushar about his favorite construction projects, food, Wim Hof, and the best ways to get from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz on a mountain bike.”
4. Some People Posted Extremely Negative Reviews on Glassdoor About Atre’s Personality
Although many people had positive things to say about Atre, that was not true of all. Multiple negative reviews were posted on Glassdoor about his management style. “The CEO Tushar Atre doesn’t value anyone but himself. He once likened employees to break pads – you push on them as hard as you can and when you have used them, you replace them,” claimed one person on the site.
Another reviewer claimed that Atre was “tyrannical to anyone he thinks is below him…He’s as inconsistent and disrespectful as someone in a leadership role can be. If you choose to be involved with AtreNet, better hope you aren’t one of Tushar Atre’s victims.” Yet another wrote, “Ridiculously rude, confrontational management style.” Said another reviewer: “I think Tushar Atre is the worst person I’ve ever met in my life and I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to work for him.”
AtreNet responded on Glassdoor to the latter comment, writing, “This employment was short lived. Young guy, thin skin. He had talent, but he lacked corporate experience. He said he wanted consistent income, and the potential to work with our larger clients. We took a risk and it did not work out.”
Another person wrote on the page: “I’ve personally seen people run away screaming because they wanted a 9-5 job. This isn’t it…Our processes are constantly improving and we’ve got some of the most cutting-edge tools and insanely smart people working here…expectations are suitably crazy high. If you don’t take criticism well and don’t want to improve from it, look elsewhere — they expect the best every day, which is hard sometimes.” And there were some positive reviews, with one person writing, “I’ve worked for AtreNet and worked closely with Tushar Atre for 7 years, and it’s been a great experience, professionally and personally. Tushar Atre is a creative CEO with an enduring commitment to excellence in everything he does, and this is particularly so in his drive to provide the best service possible to clients.”
It appears that Atre himself responded to one review that accused him or his friends of authoring positive reviews on Glassdoor. That review had accused him of being “an abusive employer that will lie to your face.”
The lengthy response read, “First off, thank you for taking the time to share your experience, albeit a harsh review. Secondly, I did not write any of the positive reviews on this site myself as, good or bad, I much prefer an honest account of my company. Much like my management style, I don’t mince words, so I apologize if anything I said or did came off as offensive or insulting. We work in the extremely fast-paced, high stress world of Silicon Valley and it is definitely not for the faint of heart. There are taxing schedules, demanding clients, and the hamster wheel never stops. I fully recognize that this is not the right place for everyone, which is why I put my employees through what can be viewed as rigorous exercises to ensure that we continually elevate our skills to meet the ongoing needs of our clients in an ever-changing space. And as the owner, I do keep a tight rein on things since I’m ultimately responsible for our work output at the end of the day. I’m sorry your experience as a contractor left you feeling unhappy as that was never my intent, and I hope you are thriving at another company that is a better fit for your work style.”
5. Atre Had a Degree in Literature & His Company Received Glowing Recommendations on His LinkedIn Page
Although his company focused on tech, Tushar Atre’s degree was in Literature. He wrote on LinkedIn that he had a bachelor’s degree in that field from New York University, graduating in 1992.
His LinkedIn page contains glowing recommendations. “Tushar and AtreNet are one of a kind. I have worked with many web design and digital agencies over the years, and will only work with AtreNet going forward. They have done a Rapid Relaunch for me at two companies, DataStax and Altify. They nailed the interpretation of my brand vision and they worked tirelessly, walking hand in hand with me and my team to make sure we succeeded. Tushar is also a person you want to know as he brings good, positive energy to any project,” wrote one person.
“Tushar’s company AtreNet did a fantastic job of relaunching the QuintessenceLabs website. He has built a team with a great combination of innovative design, technical savvy and rigorous project management which allowed him to deliver our new web site on time and in budget. We are very pleased indeed with the result,” wrote another.
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