Google Ventures partner Bill Maris is not impressed by one of the startups in his portfolio, Secret.
His firm backed the startup’s seed and Series A rounds of financing but declined to participate in a later $US25 million Series B which let the two founders pocket $US3 million each in exchange for some of their stock.
In April, the 16-month-old startup went out of business.
CEO David Byttow said he’d be returning the remaining money to investors, and he reportedly sold a Ferrari he bought with their money. It’s not clear if the rest of the millions he and his partner, Chrys Bader-Wechseler, personally cashed will be returned too.
Maris told The New York Times that Byttow and his partner taking millions off the table just six months after launch without a proven business was like a “bank heist.”
Since that article was published, Maris has spoken with Byttow and changed his tune. The investor now says his thoughts on Byttow and Secret have “evolved.”
“I do want to make clear that this was not a “bank heist,” and that was a poor choice of words on my part,” Maris wrote to the NYT author, Mike Isaac in an email. “That implies that the founders were trying to line their pockets at the expense of others. After having a heart to heart with David, I don’t think that’s true. David rightly pointed out to me that he and Chrys worked extremely hard. They built something that captured the imagination of a lot of people and had a huge amount of users. The tone and content of my comments as printed don’t pay the appropriate respect to that fact.”
Maris gives the founders prop for shutting down the company before all the money was spent and returning it to investors, a move Maris says is “brave.”