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最为不堪的创业故事击碎了硅谷梦

更新时间:2016-9-3 10:31:00 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Silicon Valley Dream Collapses in Allegations of Fraud
最为不堪的创业故事击碎了硅谷梦

SAN FRANCISCO — Like so many bright, young entrepreneurs these days, Isaac Choi arrived here last year, set up shop and promised employees that he would lead them to the Silicon Valley dream.

旧金山——就像如今许多聪明的年轻创业家一样,艾萨克·崔(Isaac Choi)在去年来到这里,创立了一家公司,承诺员工他会带领他们实现硅谷梦。

That dream is turning out mostly to be a mirage.

这个梦最终被证明基本是镜花水月。

This week, Choi’s company, WrkRiot, began unraveling in a highly public fashion. Its former head of marketing revealed that the startup had been mired in chaos and had sometimes paid employees in cashier’s checks before delaying payment altogether. She also alleged that Choi had forged wire transfer documents to make it look as if compensation were on the way. By late Tuesday, WrkRiot had taken itself offline. The veracity of Choi’s credentials are also in question.

本周,崔的公司WrkRiot开始以一种极其公开的方式崩塌倒下。它的前市场部负责人对外披露,这家创业公司已经陷入混乱,此前有时用银行本票给员工支付工资,后来干脆开始拖欠工资。她还宣称,崔曾伪造电汇文件,制造他正在进行补偿的假象。至周二晚间,WrkRiot的网站已经关闭。崔的文凭的真实性也开始受到质疑。

While WrkRiot is not widely known, the startup’s collapse has gripped Silicon Valley. Choi’s situation may be extreme, but the company’s implosion has a familiar ring to many who came west to be the next Mark Zuckerberg — but ended up instead at the next WrkRiot. Silicon Valley is eager to celebrate its success stories, but the reality is that numerous tiny startups that few ever hear about form the tech industry’s dysfunctional underbelly.

WrkRiot并不出名,但这家创业公司的倒闭在硅谷引发关注。崔的情况可能比较极端,但这家公司垮掉的故事,对许多来硅谷创业、想要成为下一个马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)——但最终可能成为了第二个WrkRiot——的人来说并不陌生。硅谷热衷于宣扬自己的成功故事,但现实是无数基本上籍籍无名的微小创业公司构成了科技行业那有些病态的软肋。

“With the exception of the alleged fraud, almost anyone who has worked at a startup has experienced most everything that went wrong at WrkRiot,” said Semil Shah, a startup investor based in Menlo Park, California. “People don’t realize the word startup is a broad concept that includes everything from a proven entrepreneur raising $15 million to a guy with money from friends and family.” To an outsider, he said, “they’re both the same.”

“除了被指诈骗的那个部分,几乎所有在创业公司工作过的人都经历过WrkRiot出现的大多数问题,”位于加州门洛帕克的创业公司投资人泽米勒·沙阿(Semil Shah)说。“人们没有意识到,创业公司是一个宽泛的概念,既包括得到市场证明、已经融到1500万美元资金的创业者,也包括拿着亲戚朋友的钱创业的人。”他说,在局外人看来,“他们是一样的。”

On Hacker News, an online forum for techies, WrkRiot’s tale has exploded into one of the most popular threads, attracting more than 500 comments, including one from a poster who said that the startup’s experience was “pretty much a rite of passage here.” Tech blogs have also seized upon the tale; one called it “one of the ugliest startup stories we’ve ever heard.”

在服务科技人士的在线论坛黑客新闻(Hacker News)上,WrkRiot的故事被引爆,成为跟帖最多的热门话题之一,引发500多条评论。其中一条表示,这家创业公司的经历“基本上是这里每家公司都要经过的成人礼”。各个科技博客也在谈论这个故事;其中一个称它是“我们听说过的最不堪的创业故事之一”。

Penny Kim, the former head of marketing at WrkRiot who wrote about her experience at the company, including the forgery allegations, said, “I’d heard stories about late paychecks or startups failing, but who expects fraud in Silicon Valley?”

WrkRiot前市场部负责人彭尼·金(Penny Kim)把她在该公司的经历写了下来,其中包括前面提到的伪造文件行为。她说,“我听说过拖欠工资或创业失败,但谁会想到硅谷还有欺诈?”

WrkRiot terminated Kim’s employment in mid-August after she filed a wage claim. She has since filed a retaliation complaint against the company and moved to Dallas, where she previously lived.

在金提出工资申诉之后,WrkRiot于8月中终止了与她的雇佣关系。之后她报复性地对该公司发起控诉,也搬回了自己之前居住的达拉斯。

In an interview this week, Choi, 35, said WrkRiot, which is based in Santa Clara, California, near where Intel is headquartered, was “like any company. If you want to talk startups, all startups have problems.” When asked about the forgery claims, Choi said that Kim was a disgruntled employee who was fired for cause and that the accusations were “unfair to my guys.”

WrkRiot的办公地点位于加州的圣克拉拉,离英特尔(Intel)的总部不远。35岁的崔在本周接受采访时说,WrkRiot“和其他公司一样。如果你想谈论创业公司,它们都有问题。”当被问到有关伪造文件的指控时,崔说金是一名心怀不满的员工,她被辞退是有正当理由的,并表示她的指控“对我的员工不公平”。

Choi’s credibility is on the line. As he built WrkRiot, the entrepreneur said that he had graduated from the Stern School of Business at New York University and that he had worked at JPMorgan for nearly four years as an analyst. NYU and JPMorgan both said they had no record of Choi. At least one company listed on his LinkedIn profile could not be found.

崔的个人信誉也面临危机。这名创业者曾表示,在创立WrkRiot时,他已经从纽约大学斯特恩商学院(Stern School of Business at New York University)毕业,而且在摩根大通(JPMorgan)做了近4年的分析师。但纽约大学和摩根大通都表示,他们没有艾萨克·崔的记录。在他LinkendIn页面上的简历中列出的供职公司中,至少有一家是无法找到的。

Choi, whose LinkedIn profile has since been wiped clean, did not respond to questions about his résumé. His lawyer, Bernard Fishman, said he was not aware of the allegations against WrkRiot until contacted by The New York Times.

之后,崔将自己在LinkendIn上的简历全部抹去。他没有回应有关简历的质疑。他的律师伯纳德·菲什曼(Bernard Fishman)表示,在《纽约时报》联系崔之前,他并不知道有人针对该公司提出了这些指控。

Choi set up his startup in June 2015 under the name 1For.One, with a mission of helping people find the perfect job online. He brought in advisers with expertise in recruiting and data science and eventually hired nearly 20 people, including Chinese nationals under work visas.

崔是在2015年6月成立了自己的创业公司,最初取名1For.One,目标是帮助人们在网上找到最合适的工作。他找来招聘和数据科学方面的专家做顾问,最终雇用了近20人,其中包括几名持工作签证的中国人。

The company later changed its name to JobSonic with a tagline, “Finally, a lightning fast job platform that cares.” Eventually, the startup settled on the vowel-challenged name of WrkRiot.

这家公司后来改名为JobSonic,并配了这样一句宣传口号,“一家关心用户需求、快如闪电的招聘平台终于出现了。”最终,这家创业公司定名为缺少元音的WrkRiot。

Choi said that the company had not raised any money from venture capital firms but that he had “a bunch of private investors who are high-net-worth individuals who believe in the company.” He said one investor was related to him and one was not, but he would not say how much money the company had.

崔表示,公司还没有获得任何风险投资,但他有“几名个人投资者,都是高净值人群,对公司的未来有信心”。他说有一位与他有亲戚关系,另一位没有,但他不愿透露公司有多少资金。

WrkRiot’s former chief technology officer and co-founder, Al Brown, said Choi had intended to put $2 million of his own money into the company but that only $400,000 had materialized.

WrkRiot前首席技术官兼联合创始人阿尔·布朗(Al Brown)表示,崔原计划个人注资200万美元,但后来只投了40万美元。

“I did not find out till the beginning of August that the money for the last payroll came from one of the employees,” Brown wrote in online comments this week.

“直到8月初我才发现,公司上一次发工资的钱来自一位员工,”布朗在本周发表于网上的评论中写道。

In Kim’s post about her experience at the company, which she did not initially identify but later confirmed was WrkRiot, she wrote that the startup, without consulting her, had hired someone who would report to her, did not plan ahead on its business — and had no idea what its business really was — and was repeatedly turned down by investors. The chief executive, later identified as Choi, also borrowed money from employees, she said.

在记叙自身经历的帖子中,金一开始并没有透露公司的名称,后来才确认是WrkRiot。她在其中写道,这家创业公司在没有咨询她意见的情况下就招进来一个需要向她汇报的人,公司没有就自身业务提前做计划,甚至不知道自己的业务真正是什么,并且不断被投资者拒之门外。她说首席执行官还向员工借了钱,也是后来才确认此人就是崔。

“Nothing about that startup surprises me anymore and it all seems like a horrible nightmare I was lucky enough to wake up from,” she wrote.

“有关这家公司的任何事都不会再让我感到惊讶,所有的一切看起来就像一个可怕的噩梦,真庆幸自己醒过来了,”她写到。

At WrkRiot, a handful of the startup’s remaining 10 or so employees gathered Tuesday night to discuss their situation, according to a person who attended the gathering and spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was concerned about retaliation.

目前WrkRiot大约还剩十名员工。周二晚上,其中一部分人聚在公司里,讨论了他们目前的状况。该消息来自一名参与了讨论的员工,此人要求不具名,因为担心遭到报复。

A few were hopeful that Choi could save the company.Some of the Chinese nationals whose work visas were tied to their employment said their visa extensions were in limbo, partly because WrkRiot had missed a payment to the paycheck-processing company ADP, making it impossible for the government to verify their employment through ADP.

一些员工仍抱有希望,觉得崔有能力挽救这家公司。有几名中国员工的工作签证与自身的受雇情况相关联,他们表示自己的签证延期申请之所以陷入困境,部分原因就在于WrkRiot没有给薪酬管理企业ADP付钱,导致政府无法通过ADP核实他们的受雇情况。

By then, WrkRiot had shut down its website, its Facebook page and its Twitter account. Many of the employees are hunting for other Silicon Valley startup jobs.

截止那时,WrkRiot已经关闭了自己的网站,也关掉了它的Facebook页面和Twitter账户。许多员工正在寻找其他硅谷创业公司的工作机会。

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