Ex-Employee Recounts Her Silicon Valley 'Nightmare'

Startup WrkRiot has gone offline amid the controversy
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2016 3:49 PM CDT
Ex-Employee Recounts Her Silicon Valley 'Nightmare'
   (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Just a month after starting at a Silicon Valley startup, a marketing professional from Dallas has taken to Medium to accuse her already former employer of fraud and more—and the startup is suddenly scrubbing its online presence clean. Penny Kim detailed her life since a July 2016 job offer—which included promises of a $135,000 salary, equity, and a $10,000 signing bonus—with an initially anonymous firm that readers quickly sorted out is WrkRiot. The details of Kim's "horrible nightmare" are so dismal that Business Insider is calling it "one of the ugliest start-up stories we've ever heard," though for his part WrkRiot founder Isaac Choi tells the New York Times that Kim is just a "disgruntled" former employee with an ax to grind. WrkRiot, which promised to help people find the perfect job, has since gone offline.

In the days since Kim published her exposé, which she says she wrote "so that others may know major red flags to look out for when choosing to work for a startup," people like Daniel Tunkelang, a data scientist who advised WrkRiot as well as Pinterest and Etsy, have been publicly denouncing the startup. Meanwhile, the very resume of Choi, including where he went to business school, is being called into question. Among other things, Kim alleges that the company forged wire-transfer receipts from a bank to dupe employees into thinking the company had issued paychecks, when it actually hadn't. She also says the company had no clear vision and was repeatedly rejected by investors. Tech Crunch calls the firm "in meltdown mode" as the WrkRiot Twitter, Facebook, and business sites, as well as Choi's LinkedIn page, have all been wiped clean. (Tech startups are often nightmares.)

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