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‘Fake It ‘Til You Make It’: Meet Charlie Javice, The Startup Founder Who Fooled JP Morgan
In 2021, 30 Under 30 2019 lister Charlie Javice, the young founder and former CEO of Frank, pulled off a master stroke: Selling her fintech startup to JP Morgan Chase for $175 million.
Just over a year later, JP Morgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon is under fire for a due diligence process that appears to have missed what the bank now claims was a major red flag about Javice’s business: legions of fake customers. JP Morgan is suing Javice for allegedly tricking it into buying Frank—which promises to simplify the student financial aid application process—by creating a list of more than 4 million college-aged users that don’t exist.
Examination of government documents and public records; reviews of hours of recorded and print interviews; and interviews with more than a dozen people who’ve interacted with Javice professionally or personally reveal her to be an entrepreneur with a grandiose vision of success and a make-it-happen-no-matter-the-cost attitude. Few seem surprised she ended up in this mess. Javice, through her lawyer Alex Spiro, did not respond to repeated requests for comment and a detailed list of questions from Forbes.
On Our Radars
- Venture capital firm Lightspeed has signaled its decision to accelerate its gaming practice with a major hire (and a familiar face): Moritz Baier-Lentz, who was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Finance list in 2016. Baier-Lentz joins Lightspeed from BITKRAFT Ventures and will head up the organization’s consumer team as a partner, aiming to boost its 15-year investment history in the gaming sector. (Forbes)
- Finally, someone said it– here’s why your favorite recent chart-topper has probably gotten that sped-up remix treatment on TikTok, the app’s latest viral phenomenon, which artists and record labels are jumping to capitalize on. (Forbes)
- Trying to take advantage of digital nomadism? Here are some in-demand skills for freelancers that are bringing in the big bucks. (Forbes)
- Major seed trends over the past few months include carbon capture, AI productivity tools, fertility and women’s health and hybrid work. (Crunchbase)
- Sequoia is betting that now is a worthwhile time to move further into seed investing. The heavyweight Sand Hill Road firm announced Wednesday a new $195 million seed fund, and plans in 2023 to run three batches of Arc, its version of an accelerator, up from two last year. (Forbes)
- Here’s a tip for founders: Word choice matters. Elon Musk is two days into a class-action lawsuit for a tweet in which he stated that he had funding “secured” to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Tesla shareholders who traded in the days after the tweet are suing for billions in damages. (Tech Crunch)
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