It’s only been a few days since news broke about a $1.25 million Series A funding for New York City- and San Francisco-based video aggregation and distribution service VHX.tv, and there’s already the threat of a lawsuit over the money.
Rocketboom founder and CEO Andrew Baron alleged on Twitter late Wednesday night that he owns the rights for the idea behind VHX.
“The (intellectual property) contractually belongs to me. Not looking fwd to this,” he tweeted.
Magma and VHX.tv
When asked for clarification via email, Baron told me that his allegations center around a video aggregation site called Magma, which launched in 2009. Baron said that he essentially sees VHX as a clone of Magma. “Under the hood, its the same thing, exactly,” he wrote. “The same feature set exactly.”
Of course, there’s only so much one can innovate when it comes to some very generic aggregation functionality, and to be quite honest, much of what VHX is offering in the distribution space doesn’t seem to be at all related to Magma.
However, Baron claims that he has a kind of non-compete contract with VHX.tv co-founder Jamie Wilkinson, who previously worked for Baron on Magma. Wilkinson broke that contract when he launched VHX, he further alleged. VHX.tv strongly denied Baron’s allegations when contacted for this story, but declined to comment further.
Baron on the other hand told me that he has talked to lawyers about the matter, but that the news about the funding prompted him to step up his efforts. “I’ve reached out to one of his investors who I’ve communicated with before in case they would like to try to resolve it amicably,” he told me.
Asked whether he was prepared to sue VHX, Baron only said: “My lawyers have come up with a strategy that I’m comfortable with.” He declined to elaborate further.
Baron tweets his mind
Yesterday’s public out-lashing against VHX was part of a litany of tweets, fired off in a few minutes and deleted soon after, which conveyed a general sense of betrayal, a kind of me-vs-the-world sentiment. In it, Baron alleged that numerous former employees have turned against him over the years, taking ownership of his ideas and even his money. One tweet stated:
“Sadly, I can not get into the story now, but one day will be able to. Some folks literally extorted and that led to a cash settlement.”
It’s unclear which of his ventures Baron refered to with this allegation. Baron had a very public falling out with Rocketboom’s first host, Amanda Congdon in 2006, and later parted with much of the staff of the company’s popular Know Your Meme franchise.