A San Jose man who launched a failed lawsuit last year against prominent VC firm Benchmark Capital is now asking the public to fund a film about venture capitalists who steal the ideas pitched to them by entrepreneurs.
Raj Abhyanker, a lawyer and film producer, claims that an entrepreneur-in-residence at Benchmark stole his idea for a neighborhood social network, and used his concept to launch the site Nextdoor.com. Now, he wants the public to contribute $10,000 to shine light on whether such entrepreneurs (veteran business people who work in big capital firms) take unfair advantage of their access to ideas.
The concept is an intriguing one. Silicon Valley has no shortage of people who are convinced others stole their idea to make a fortune (anyone remember the Winklevii?). And it’s true that the powerful venture capital firms of Sand Hill Road are privy to a steady stream of cutting edge ideas — no doubt they have cribbed or outright stolen a few of them. A little sunshine on the subject would be good, no?
Alas, our would-be whistleblower is, to put it politely, a flawed protagonist. As AllThingsD reported last year, there are some serious holes in Abhyanker’s story about Nextdoor; he has also tried — and failed — to claim credit for concepts like Facebook’s “Like” button. And, in the latest development, Nextdoor is now suing Abhyanker for cyberpiracy and trademark infringement (Abhyanker claimed to me that the lawsuit means he has turned the tables on Nextdoor; the company said by email his claims have no merit).
Meanwhile, Abhyanker’s own entrepreneurial cred appears dubious too; career site Glassdoor contains entries for his firm like “Horrible place even for a caged animal” and “‘cut and paste’ other people’s ideas with cheaper and abused Indian labor type of guy.”
You can see the Kickstarter project here — a $50 pledge gives you “OWN THE MOVE + JOIN THE EXPERIENCE + STICKER.” So far, there are no backers.
(Image by Crepesoles via Shutterstock)