Caveat Investor

Amateur Hour: New Crowdinvesting Rules Mean Everyone Can Play Venture Capitalist

(Photo: James Cridland via Flickr)

It was glaringly sunny in Washington, D.C., on April 5, the day President Barack Obama signed the JOBS Act, and there was some confusion as to the location of the afterparty. One faction of Rose Garden attendees gathered on the roof of the W Hotel and wondered where everyone was. The rest assembled at Off The Record, a dimly lit bar in the basement of the Hay-Adams Hotel, and kicked things off with an icebreaker.

About 30 smartly dressed men and women, still sweating out the adrenaline of being three rows away from the president, stood in a circle. Many had worked with each other but never met. Each stated their names, the role they played in the bill, and perhaps a few words about the brave new world of so-called equity-based crowdfunding, which had just been legalized by one of the six constituent laws that make up the JOBS Act. The new rule will allow “ordinary Americans,” in the president’s words, to invest in a nonpublic company in exchange for shares for the first time since the enactment of the securities regulation that followed the 1929 stock market crash.

The mood was triumphant and boozy. Tim Rowe, a Cambridge-based venture capitalist, raised a glass and offered a toast to working together in the future. “The Marine Corps was founded in a bar in Philadelphia,” he said. “Big things can happen starting in a bar.” Attendees signed up to join a trade organization for the newly minted market. “There was the sense of elation that we had cracked the monopoly of Wall Street,” one attendee recalled. Read More

Caveat Backer

Guy Behind Kickstarter Video Game Scam Isn’t Even a Game Developer, Former Employer Says

"Seth Westfall," the creator and cofounder of "Little Monster Productions." (kickstarter.com)

The man behind the Kickstarter campaign for a game that raised a few thousand dollars before being revealed as a plagiarizer may not even be a game developer, Betabeat has learned.

In a Kickstarter campaign, a man who identifies himself as Seth Westphal claims to be the founder and CEO of an independent gaming studio called Little Monsters Productions. The art for the proposed game was cribbed from other artists on the web and the photos of Little Monsters studios were taken from another independent gaming studio, Burton Design Group.

This morning we spoke with Alfonzo Burton, CEO and creative director of Burton Design Group, who claims to be Mr. Westphal’s former employer.

Mr. Westphal was an office manager, not a game developer, Mr. Burton said, and he was fired in “released from our studio back in February for noncompliance.” Mr. Westphal came in late, didn’t get work done, and didn’t follow procedure, Mr. Burton said. “Seth Westphal is a fraud. Don’t pay him for any games. He’s not a game developer.” Read More

Caveat Backer

This Is What a Kickstarter Scam Looks Like

mythic

When Kickstarter projects go wrong, backers often think they’ve been scammed; usually, the creators simply overpromised. But a campaign for an action video game, MYTHIC: The Story Of Gods and Men, has just been busted by forum users at Reddit, SomethingAwful and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. The creators claimed to be an independent studio, “Little Monster Productions,” of 12 industry veterans in Hollywood. “Our team has done a significant amount of work on the World of Warcraft series as well as Diablo 2 and the original Starcraft,” says the project page.

Bullshit, said the Internet. Turns out the art was cribbed, the text for backer rewards was copied and pasted from another Kickstarter project, and even the office photos were from another game studio, Burton Design Group. Read More