Perils of Purchase: V2Green's Founder Sues GridPoint

davidkaplanUpdate: Back in September, all seemed well between the smart-charging startup V2Green and its new owner, smart grid company GridPoint. At that time GridPoint raised a $120 million equity financing round, in part, to fuel an acquisition strategy, and snapped up newcomer V2Green for its technology to manage the charge of electric vehicles. Looks like the bloom has fallen off the rose, at least for V2Green founder and former CEO David Kaplan (pictured). According to Techflash, Kaplan is suing GridPoint, alleging that the company violated the terms of his employment contract after letting him go last month.

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We were wondering what was happening after GridPoint informed us that Kaplan was no longer with the company in early March (Kaplan was scheduled to speak at our Green:Net conference this week, but GridPoint’s John Clark spoke in his place). Kaplan tells Techflash that he’s frustrated over not being able to reach an agreement with GridPoint about a severance package, and according to a suit filed on March 16 in King County Superior Court, has asked for an undetermined award to cover the unpaid severance as well as attorney fees and other damages.

Update: GridPoint emailed us a statement that says:

GridPoint’s position is that David Kaplan was not terminated and that his decision to leave GridPoint was entirely his own. Moreover, GridPoint has honored Mr. Kaplan’s employment agreement. John Clark, former CEO of V2green, is leading the electric vehicle management group in Seattle. We acquired V2Green because we saw potential not only in its technology but in its people. GridPoint is expanding and hiring at both its Seattle office and Arlington headquarters.

Any founder that sells his/her company knows there are perils involved with being bought, including not agreeing with the direction of the integration, that can lead to a parting of ways. Sustainable Industries has an interesting article on how to avoid some of those acquisition pitfalls. Kaplan, who did a 12-year stint at Microsoft and helped build the SQL server business, has always seemed more like the ideas guy than an operations executive. Over a year ago he passed the CEO torch to John Clark. Kaplan described himself as a technology-focused founder to us during that interview in January 2008 and said he wanted to move away from the business responsibilities. We also put him on our 25 Who Ditched Infotech for Cleantech List.

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