Take what happened in the past two weeks: Charlie Javice, the founder of the financial aid start-up Frank, was arrested, accused of falsifying customer data. A jury found Rishi Shah, a co-founder of the advertising software start-up Outcome Health, guilty of defrauding customers and investors. And a judge ordered Elizabeth Holmes, the founder who defrauded investors at her blood testing start-up Theranos, to begin an 11-year prison sentence on April 27.
Those developments follow the February arrests of Carlos Watson, the founder of Ozy Media, and Christopher Kirchner, the founder of software company Slync, both accused of defrauding investors. Still to come is the fraud trial of Manish Lachwani, a co-founder of the software start-up HeadSpin, set to begin in May, and that of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, who faces 13 fraud charges later this year.
Taken together, the chorus of charges, convictions and sentences have created a feeling that the start-up world’s fast and loose fakery actually has consequences. Despite this generation’s many high-profile scandals (Uber, WeWork) and downfalls (Juicero), few start-up founders, aside from Ms. Holmes, ever faced criminal charges for pushing the boundaries of business puffery as they disrupted us into the future.
‘Enforcement 40’ for 2020
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