If we were, things would be really crazy, after all. You'd have trouble distinguishing between episodes of HBO's Silicon Valley, and real life.
- I Got Scammed By A Silicon Valley Startup
My first day of work was July 5th. I walked into the office to find 17 employees. Between June and July, the startup hired an additional 9 members, including a young social media manager who had been running marketing efforts free range prior to my arrival. I had notated in my interview keynote that this person was a team member that I would fill as Marketing Director, so it was interesting they decided to hire the person without communicating with me. Even more interesting was the fact that she labeled herself as the “Chief Marketing Officer” of the startup on her social media channels before she even met me. Already there were signs pointing to challenges ahead.
Everything seemed normal for a startup my first two weeks on the job until payday.
My first paycheck was late. Jessica, Tom (our new project manager who started in June), and I were the only ones that received cashier’s checks on July 20th. My sign on bonus was not included. I asked about it and was told it was coming in the next check. The other employees received nothing and I’m not sure why. I can’t recall a time in my life where I was paid my wages in a cashier’s check so I requested a pay stub. Charlie told me that they wouldn’t be able to help with payroll until we moved over to Gusto, a new accounting system. He and Michael would get back to me on this. I didn’t like this answer. Considering this was my first payroll experience, I abruptly halted my apartment search and paid for a temporary Airbnb covering the first half of August. The boxes of what was left of my life remained in the back seat of my car. Something was up and I started feeling uncomfortable.
- This is Charlie.
I did not find out till the beginning of August that the money for the last payroll came from one of the employees. I thought there was $500k available starting July. It became apparent it was not available shortly thereafter.
In July, Penny joined. We went through more stress at the company with the CEO stating every other week money was coming from a variety of sources – a line of credit from Mackie Research due to his personal connections, his money making it over, and different investors. None of it came to pass.
- Lesson Learned
Overall, the company seemed more interested in using my name than in actually following my advice.
So why did I remain as an advisor? As a matter of fact, I’d asked to terminate the advisory relationship back in May — I was becoming increasingly busy with other commitments, and they were at the bottom of my priority queue. But they talked me out of it, mostly by convincing me that they wouldn’t take up much of my time.