From Young Billionaire To ‘Clown In The Valley’
March 30, 2024 1:06 AM   Subscribe

Ten days after Bolt announced its Series E in January 2022, Breslow tweeted a flurry of insults at investors Sequoia Capital and Y Combinator, who he called the “Mob Bosses of Silicon Valley” and accused of colluding with payments competitor Stripe. Representatives of both firms rejected the claims on Twitter, with Sequoia partner Shaun Maguire calling them a “steaming pile of [poop emoji].” Six days later, Breslow abruptly stepped down as Bolt’s CEO to become its executive chairman, telling CNBC the decision was his own and had come to him while meditating. (Breslow’s title is now chairman, according to the company.) from The Billion-Dollar Unraveling Of The 'King' Of Silicon Valley [Forbes, ungated]
posted by chavenet (16 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
The 'King' Of Silicon Valley

Who?
posted by pwnguin at 1:15 AM on March 30 [18 favorites]


And… another person who left Stanford early to engage in high profile fraud. Do they save all their ethics and critical thinking classes for senior year?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:27 AM on March 30 [10 favorites]


Do they save all their ethics and critical thinking classes for senior year?

They’re electives.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:55 AM on March 30 [28 favorites]


The 'King' Of Silicon Valley

> Who?


"Florida court records viewed by Forbes show that a month earlier, he changed his middle name to 'King.'"
posted by trig at 3:16 AM on March 30 [6 favorites]


These are mere pretender kings. Emperor Norton I is the one true ruler of the Bay Area.
posted by eigenman at 6:41 AM on March 30 [18 favorites]


This reminds me of when I was a young lad in college, and first really ran into the "private sector is far superior at everything" argument common among conservatives.

I found it distinctly, well, "un-American" to use their parlance, as the usual private sector setup resembles a dictatorship far more than a democracy (not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea).

This illustrates that perfectly. This guy would fit right in with insane Roman emperors or feudal European kings.
posted by teece303 at 7:44 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Breslow again found himself in court when Love Health, an online wellness marketplace he’d originally cofounded as a cryptocurrency pharmaceuticals startup

Thinks to self, now there's a three word combination that just screams scam. Follows link to read about digital tokens and homeopathy. Nods sagely and closes tab.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:53 AM on March 30 [8 favorites]


I couldn’t finish the article. It was so familiar and repetitious of an hundred other stories I’ve heard about privileged white men scamming people out of their money. How boring (the narrative, not you OP).
posted by ckoerner at 8:03 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


I couldn't finish the article because Forbes has some paywall that intervenes after ~30 seconds to stop you reading it. A new low in paywalls. Actually I did read it, but I had to reload the page about 8 times to get through it.

I was also "who?"; I'd kind of forgotten about Bolt. But the company was valued at $11B at one point, and he took in nearly $1B from investors.

It seems most of his fraud is related to him personally trying to cash out of Bolt early, long before any public liquidity. That's become something of a trend in the tech industry in the last 15 years. It used to be founders were expected to take a vow of poverty (or at least middleclassery) until the big liquidity event. But that creates weird incentives so now a lot of hot company financing includes a little taste of cashout for the founder. Breslow wanted more of a taste than just that and apparently committed fraud to get more cash.

I feel bad for the folks at Bolt who trusted their leader. The article implies that Breslow corrupted the company a bit, manipulating metrics to make it look better. But I think as a whole the company has a real product and real customers? It just may not be worth anywhere near the $11B in the same valuation reckoning so many high-flying startups are facing right now.
posted by Nelson at 8:39 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


tweeted a flurry of insults at investors Sequoia Capital and Y Combinator

Still a little better than when recently the CEO of Y Combinator tweeted death threats at San Francisco's elected reps (later leading to even scarier death threats from his fans mentioning the victims' home addresses and children).
posted by splitpeasoup at 8:42 AM on March 30 [5 favorites]


film at 11....th comment
posted by MonsieurPEB at 11:25 AM on March 30 [1 favorite]


And… another person who left Stanford early to engage in high profile fraud. Do they save all their ethics and critical thinking classes for senior year?

Does anyone honestly think ethics classes make people behave more ethically? It's not like they send everyone into an exam room, give an impossible test and fail everyone who cheated.

AFAICT, ethics classes are run as tools to teach good people there is no singular "right" ethical framework. And considering the state of dishonesty research, maybe academia isn't qualified to teach the class you expect should exist.
posted by pwnguin at 11:27 AM on March 30 [5 favorites]


The purpose of ethics training isn't to teach unethical people to become ethical, it's to help ethical people think about how to avoid behaving unethically.

You can't train people who don't value ethics to care about it, you can at best train the rest of us how to identify them and avoid giving them power. That's not usually taught though.
posted by biogeo at 1:00 PM on March 30 [5 favorites]


Also worth observing that Ariely's research was not actually in how to get people to value ethics or choose honesty, but in how to manipulate them into doing what you want... Which in retrospect maybe should have been a red flag.
posted by biogeo at 1:06 PM on March 30 [2 favorites]


Does anyone honestly think ethics classes make people behave more ethically?

I think it might make some think a little bit. I believe that every Business BA and MA and any "Entrepreneurship"courses should ahve a large component on people who went to jail for A Very Long Time to counteract some of the other messaging they get. Perhaps Bankman-Fried would have even added it to his calculation of "expected value" and decided it wasn't worth it.

Note that Bankman-Fried went to school elsewhere; it's his parents who are/were faculty at Stanford.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:32 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]


Given the number of people I've met who are truly convinced that careers in hitech, venture capital funds, private equity, and so on will by definition have them doing meaningful work for the good of society - because, you know, these are cool fields that people look up to! they're changing the world! disrupting!- it seems like a class or two on "here's some of the damage companies in these fields have done lately; here's how common this type of damage is" might at least raise awareness for someone.

That said, that's a different kind of syllabus than "here's some times where CEOs stole money from their companies".
posted by trig at 3:23 PM on March 30 [5 favorites]


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