As former Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari quit Invact Metaversity -- an online platform for education and Web3.0 and Metaverse -- in just six months of its birth, skeletons have started tumbling out after one of the angel investors accused Maheshwari of "lying and bullying".
Founded by Maheshwari and Tanay Pratap just six months ago, the startup in February received $5 million in funding led by Arkam Ventures to build a metaverse of education and expand globally.
In an email to investors, Gergely Orosz accused Maheshwari of wanting "more equity than vested".
"Manish has been bullying Tanay into silence, threatening to use the company funds of $1.7M, including our angel investment money, to sue him, should Tanay speak ill of him in public. This broke the straw with me, as that includes my money: which I never invested to be used as an instrument of a co-founder bullying the other one," Orosz said in the email.
"Manish is keeping the company hostage. He controls the majority of votes and is refusing to sign agreements which he confirmed he would sign to leave. Named investors and employees all want him to leave, taking fair terms. In a strange way, everyone's hands are tied until he steps down," alleged Orosz, a software engineer and an author.
In a tweet tagging Maheshwari, he further said: "If I invest in a company, and a cofounder unethically holds that company hostage, looking at their sole selfish interest: I will do what is best for the employees, the customers and the investors. If the only way to do this is in public: I do it in public @manishm."
Maheshwari was yet to react to Orosz's allegations.
On Friday, Maheshwari announced he is leaving the startup to "pursue new opportunities".
"I am moving out of Invact to first take a break for a few months and then pursue new opportunities. It is heartbreaking for a founder to leave the startup, like a mother leaving her baby. I am going through the same emotion," he tweeted.
Orosz alleged in the email that "Manish keeps walking back on promises he made to named investors, then breaking them".
"Named investors were meeting the terms he put up to accept the exit settlement so the company can continue operating. He then walks back on these terms. He has been doing this for weeks.
"No current employees trust Manish to stay. They feel he has misled them too many times. I have talked with most of them to confirm this is the case," he claimed.
Maheshwari earlier envisioned building a virtual-first curriculum and expanding into Europe and the US.
"Metaverse is a concept that stands at a cusp where it will be a lead factor in transforming the educational landscape," said Maheshwari.
Orosz said in another tweet that they tried to resolve the internal tussle at the startup privately and it looked like it worked.
"Until investors got lied to, agreements waked back on. I am doing this in public because weeks of doing it in private did not lead anywhere. And because I told @manishm exactly this will happen if he acts unethical," he posted.