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Soraya Darabi Steps Back at Foodspotting, Eyes Bigger Role at ABC

soraya darabi Soraya Darabi Steps Back at Foodspotting, Eyes Bigger Role at ABCSoraya Darabi, public face and retroactively-named co-founder for the Bay Area start-up Foodspotting, has effectively left her daily role at the company.

Ms. Darabi, who has more than 429,000 followers on Twitter and a strong personal brand as a tech-savvy marketer, was brought on to get publicity for Foodspotting. And she did it well, evangelizing the service by word of mouth, on Twitter and through myriad interviews with outlets from Betabeat to Mashable (“How Soraya Darabi Put Foodspotting on the Map”) to New York magazine.

But Ms. Darabi had little input on product, sources close to Foodspotting told us, and she seemed less enthusiastic about Foodspotting as time went on and the service had trouble gaining traction in the face of threats from competitors as intimidating as Foursquare.

Now, Ms. Darabi is “taking a step back into the role of Senior Advisor and will continue to vest equity in this role,” she told Betabeat via email while on a flight to the West Coast. “This was a mutual decision we came to given the company’s shifting priorities (product and local outreach) and my strengths (national media and brand relationships), but we haven’t announced it publicly yet because we didn’t see an immediate reason to–we’re continuing to collaborate as we always have, just in a more focused way.”

foodspotting cofounders Soraya Darabi Steps Back at Foodspotting, Eyes Bigger Role at ABC

Ms. Darabi with Foodspotting co-founders Ted Grubb and Alexa Andrzejewski.

Foodspotting co-founder Alexa Andrzejewski affirmed Ms. Darabi’s explanation. But at least half a dozen sources close to Foodspotting told Betabeat that founders and investors were frustrated that Ms. Darabi seemed distracted by other pursuits, continuing to serve as the public face for the company even as she was increasingly absent from daily work.

Losing Ms. Darabi is a blow to Foodspotting, most sources told Betabeat, considering her high profile. “Business people who have partnered with them before say that the space is completely inundated and Foodspotting was the one company that really had a brand,” one source told Betabeat. “She is a big name,” the source continued, speculating that Ms. Darabi could get half a percent in equity just for joining another start-up’s advisory board. “She is a promotional all-star.”

Ms. Darabi, who started her career as communications coordinator for Conde Nast before taking on social media marketing at the The New York Times, leapt into the start-up world with a six-month stint as Product Lead of Drop.io project PressLift, after which she jumped to Foodspotting. “She has a track record of someone who wants to leave before the show is over,” one source close to Drop.io told Betabeat. “She likes to work on the next hot thing. Foodspotting was the best deal early stage start-up you could be at when she started doing PR there. It was always weird to me that she joined as co-founder even though it was already launched.”

Most recently, Ms. Darabi has been appearing on-air and working on segments for ABC, where she’s been helping out for 10 months started helping out last month. Regarding ABC, she said she’s “considering doing more now, but haven’t made any commitments as of late beyond chatting with a couple of projects about an advising role.”Ms. Darabi also recently became the first digital ambassador to The United Nation’s technology group “Global Pulse,” an was named a TechStars mentor in New York City as well as a member of the ‘Notables’ committee at Carnegie Hall.

Correction: This post mis-stated the time Ms. Darabi has been working at ABC. She has been working there for ten months. Betabeat regrets the error.

Comments

  1. Soraya ia a very smart person and I wish her the best. She played a big role in the New York Times’ social media evolution over the last few years. She’ll have a lot to offer ABC if she goes there full-time.

  2. Stan Farley says:

    What’s sad is that in the Mashable article you linked to, she said (in comments): “if you’d like to meet and talk about what it is that I do for this company, and why I’m going to be involved until the final bow, email me”. 

    So much for that.  The real lesson here is that startups should avoid opportunistic self-promoters like Soraya who, while they can get you some good press here and there, in the long run jump ship and take your equity. This is her second time dropping a startup once it crested: remember Drop.io? Techstars should be reconsider having her on as a mentor: what startups need are driven, passionate, and persistent workers. Soraya is the opposite.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Soraya’s one of the sharpest people in NY tech

  4. Anonymous says:

    the thing is that Soraya doesn’t do much in these positions she takes. the marketing department was not something that anyone respected at nytimes, much like the people that work in the marketing department of any large organization. the only thing she’s good at is being fake and accepting the attention she gets from people as positive reinforcement. but most people know when someone’s fake and act fake right back at them, and men just don’t care if it’s any kind of attention from a pretty woman.

  5. Sunrays says:

    Your editor, E. Spiers should be sued by Darabi. 

    1. Ben Popper says:

      We ran the contents of the story by Ms. Darabi and her fellow co-founder Alexa, before it was published, so I think they would be hard pressed to find legal grounds for a suit. 

    2. Tjefferson says:

      What a poor example of so-called journalism. Ben, Adrienne and Nitasha: Just because you mention “at least half a dozen sources” doesn’t convince anyone that you actually did your job as reporters. Get some of these obvious haters to go on the record and then maybe you’ll be taken seriously.

  6. Alex lasky says:

    she is a smart ass rock star and stop player hating… its really like you guys are debating the merits of Soraya when she is living her life and doing it well. i mean food spotting is on map cause of her connect.

  7. Another Entrepreneur says:

    This article is useless.  Founding teams split up all the time and everyone knows that it’s more about the personalities and how well they work together.  So this team’s usefulness has come to an end.  Soraya is clearly talented and works hard including a bunch of public service commitments – and  you cite several sources which mention that she “put Foodspotting on the map.”  Is there a reason you’re taking this random opportunity to question her integrity?  Way to be snarky for no reason whatsoever.  Useless post, useless publication.