But it’s his horrific death that has drawn international attention. The 33-year-old entrepreneur was found dead by his sister Monday afternoon in his Manhattan condominium, his body dismembered and left in trash bags in separate rooms, according to multiple media reports. She had not heard from Saleh and was checking in on him.
A masked man dressed in all black followed Saleh into the key-card secured elevator that led to his seventh-floor apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the New York Times reported. When the elevator stopped, building security cameras captured the two men struggling. The Times cited unnamed law enforcement officials who described the slaying as a “professional job” and a “hit,” and it remained to be seen whether the killing had any connection to his business dealings.
The tributes began streaming in immediately. “Fahim believed in the potential for technology to transform lives in Bangladesh and beyond,” Hussain M. Elius told the nation’s Daily Star newspaper. “He saw the promise in us when all we had was a common purpose and a shared vision.” Elius is co-founder and chief executive of Pathao, a Bangladeshi ride-hailing app Saleh helped launch.
Born in Saudi Arabia to Bangladeshi parents, Saleh was raised in Upstate New York and earned a computer science degree from Bentley University, an elite private school known for its business program, in Waltham, Mass. He started building websites as a child; his first was Salehfamily.com, which relatives used to coordinate family gatherings, according to a 2016 blog profile.
By the time he was 15, he published a blogging site where friends took turns posting comments and then replying to each other. After it began turning a modest income, Saleh branched out and developed other sites, leveraging advertisements.
“I just sat at my house in my pajamas, created something, placed some ads and generated revenue,” he told the blog Radiche. “That showed promise that it could actually be successful and I could make money off this.”
“I would stay up super late, work on it and would be worried my dad would catch me,” he added. “He thought it would hinder my schoolwork, which it didn’t. Then, I got my first paycheck from Google for $500 as a teenager and showed it to my dad. He was like, ‘Okay, let’s open an account.’ The same website was sold on eBay for $2,000.”
During his years at Bentley, he canvassed restaurants around Boston to create a Facebook food delivery app. After graduating in 2009, he launched Prank Dial, a prank-calling app that allows users to pay to send a prerecorded call to a friend.
“What an honour it is to have been led by you Fahim,” Gokada tweeted. “Your teachings on safety, efficiency and kindness will continue to follow us as we uphold the legacy which you successfully began.”