#sextrafficking | For 12 Years, He Had Silicon Valley’s Most Powerful Living In Fear | #tinder | #pof | #match

Victims embrace former Sequoia Capital associate Michael Goguen.

Last November, the U.S. Attorney in Missoula, Montana, indicted a 56-year-old man named Bryan Nash on 10 fees of stalking and extortion. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation had gathered proof they mentioned confirmed that Nash despatched a whole bunch of messages threatening recipients and their rapid households with public humiliation, veiled threats of violence and prison prosecution. The indictment handed principally unnoticed, however a whole bunch of miles away, a few of Silicon Valley’s strongest leaders exhaled. For greater than a decade, in some circumstances, prosecutors say the alleged targets and their households had endured Nash’s threats to publicize unsubstantiated claims of illicit affairs, intercourse trafficking, pedophilia, and the hiring of prostitutes until they paid him hundreds of thousands of {dollars}.

The alleged victims weren’t recognized within the indictment, however Bloomberg has realized that they embrace former Sequoia Capital associate Michael Goguen, present associate Doug Leone, the enterprise agency itself and a number of other of its senior companions, in addition to Kleiner Perkins Chairman John Doerr. In all, in line with the prison grievance, the accused despatched threatening messages to virtually two dozen individuals, together with kids, wives, ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, staff, mates, non secular leaders and charities. The trial is about for May 11. Nash, who has pleaded not responsible and denies all the costs, might resist seven years in jail and $500,000 in fines if convicted.

Sequoia Capital places of work in Menlo Park, California. Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

There is not any proof that Nash’s targets really engaged within the habits of which he allegedly accused them. But in an period of faux information and the #MeToo motion, his threats had been sufficient to encourage concern that his claims can be believed. The story, instructed right here for the primary time, is predicated on courtroom paperwork, texts and emails reviewed by Bloomberg and interviews with virtually a dozen individuals who mentioned they’re acquainted with the alleged harassment. It includes a former stripper, an early Google government, secret audio recordings, $40,000 in fantasy artwork, safety guards on Sand Hill Road, a intercourse trafficking scare, solid medical paperwork and intermittent calls for for tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars}. Nash and his public defender, John Rhodes, did not reply to a number of requests for remark. In an interview, Goguen described the alleged harassment and extortion as “psychological torture.”

A Relationship Turns Toxic

Bryan Nash and Michael Goguen began out as informal exercise buddies, their relationship turning poisonous over time as their lives and careers diverged. While Goguen reaped the riches and rewards of the tech growth, Nash struggled to maintain up-piling on debt and attempting fruitlessly to interrupt into the rarefied world of Silicon Valley enterprise capitalists.

The two males met within the early 1990s. Grunge music was on the radio, Google had not but been invented, and a three-bedroom home down the road from Stanford University price lower than $1 million. They attended the identical fitness center and hit it off regardless of hailing from completely different backgrounds. Goguen, then 27, had simply relocated from Boston along with his spouse Lynne to work at Digital Equipment Corp. whereas incomes his grasp’s in electrical engineering at Stanford. Nash, then 28, was a valley native, single and discovering some success buying and selling shares. He had one thing of an inside monitor to the upcoming growth occasions; his stepfather, Donald Bell, based Bell Microsystems and was shut with Sequoia Capital founder Don Valentine. Goguen grew up in Bedford, Massachusetts, the son of an accountant and the fifth of six youngsters.

Where Goguen could possibly be introverted, Nash was extra charismatic and outgoing-frequently throwing events at his house. As they constructed careers and began households throughout their 30s, Goguen and Nash remained pleasant however spent much less time socializing. Nash was doing work for the hedge fund Bowman Capital and a few monetary consulting. He married his girlfriend Stephanie Hartranft. They had three kids collectively and bought their dream house just a few miles from Stanford within the coveted Woodside Elementary School District, the place Nash himself had attended faculty.

Goguen joined Sequoia Capital as a enterprise investor in 1996. Already well-known for its bets on Apple Inc. and different startups that grew to change into international titans, the agency was turning into a gold customary. Goguen put his electrical engineering diploma to work, discovering and funding infrastructure and networking startups-making cash for the agency and himself within the course of.

By the early aughts, Goguen was coming into a interval of prosperity. Sequoia’s small funding in Google ballooned in worth because the search engine started to dominate the online and digital promoting. Goguen acquired a share of that deal and dozens of different house runs. His web value soared, and he regularly appeared on the Forbes Midas List for his capacity to seek out and fund successful applied sciences.

As Goguen’s profession took off, his private life cratered. He and his spouse Lynne, who had two kids collectively, divorced in 1999. He married his second spouse Melinda in 2000 and started touring regularly for each enterprise and pleasure. In 2002, he met a girl named Amber Baptiste at a Dallas strip membership the place she was working on the time. Goguen and the 21-year-old Baptiste started a long-distance, intermittent affair, each recalled in interviews.

In 2008, Bryan and Stephanie Nash break up up and filed for divorce, too. By then, the couple had begun to wrestle financially and could not afford the $12,800 month-to-month outlay for the mortgages and contours of credit score on the household’s $2.2 million home in Woodside and the $825,000 second house in Tahoe, in line with the divorce paperwork.

One day, in line with paperwork associated to the divorce, Stephanie Nash known as Goguen, who was by then sharing little one custody along with his first spouse, recovering from his second divorce and relationship his future third spouse. Goguen was stunned to listen to from Stephanie Nash as a result of they hadn’t been shut. She wished assist discovering a job and navigating her break up from Bryan. Goguen mentioned he gave Stephanie recommendation together with a laptop computer and the title of a divorce lawyer. Bryan Nash was livid that Goguen had gotten concerned, in line with the prison grievance. Nash, the authorities say, started berating his erstwhile pal by e mail and threatening to reveal Goguen’s affairs and different unspecified habits until he paid Nash to remain quiet.

As Nash’s monetary state of affairs worsened, he and his spouse had been pressured to promote their Woodside house for $1.75 million after a sequence of value reductions. By then, Nash’s threatening emails are alleged to have intensified, prompting Goguen to contact the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office. The content material and timing of the missives had been typically upsetting and false, Goguen mentioned; one textual content accusing him of sleeping with Nash’s spouse arrived as Goguen’s first son was being born. But no legal guidelines had been being damaged, Goguen recollects native regulation enforcement telling him on the time. A spokeswoman for the county sheriff’s workplace declined to remark, citing the upcoming federal trial.

Homes in Woodside, California. Photographer: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

A Second Extortion Attempt

Three years later, Nash was nonetheless demanding cash from Goguen and threatening to reveal his affairs to colleagues and mates in Whitefish, Montana, the place Goguen had a second house, in line with the prison grievance. Then, whilst Goguen mentioned he struggled to cope with Nash’s extortion try, a second one emerged. Amber Baptiste, the unique dancer Goguen had met years earlier in Dallas and nonetheless noticed sometimes, was indignant as a result of he saved remarrying, however by no means to her. She started sending messages disparaging Goguen and the a number of girls with whom he had had intimate relationships, in line with texts and emails reviewed by Bloomberg. She urged him to spend time together with her and donate to her charity, Every Girl Counts, which she instructed Goguen had been set as much as dress, feed and shelter three-dozen younger women in Los Angeles she mentioned had been abused and uncared for. Goguen donated $250,000.

In January 2014, Baptiste produced medical paperwork exhibiting she had a high-risk pressure of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and mentioned she had contracted it from Goguen. She demanded $40 million in compensation, and Goguen, believing the declare to be true and fearing harm to his fame, signed an settlement to make 4 $10 million funds, wiring her the primary installment in January 2014.

At about this time, Baptiste mentioned she started receiving nameless messages stuffed with damaging accusations about Goguen. Based on the language, timing and different components, Goguen and others suspect that Nash was sending the messages. She demanded that Goguen pay the remaining $30 million sooner and threatened to destroy his fame if he did not, in line with courtroom paperwork. Goguen did not, and in March 2016, Baptiste filed a now notorious lawsuit alleging, amongst different issues, that he had saved her as a intercourse slave and had given her HPV. Years later, proof introduced at trial would persuade a choose that not one of the allegations had been true-that Baptiste had solid medical paperwork, created a faux charity and spent greater than $40,000 of the charity’s funds to fee fantasy work of herself. (In late December 2019, the courtroom ordered Baptiste to repay Goguen the $10.25 million. She instructed Bloomberg in February that she is not presently represented by an legal professional however plans to attraction.)

But on the time, her claims resonated within the courtroom of public opinion-generating international headlines, inspiring a YouTube animation of Goguen having intercourse with a unicorn and shattering Goguen’s household and profession. His oldest daughter took a go away of absence from college whereas a youthful daughter stopped speaking to him, in line with courtroom paperwork. Sequoia Capital, already being criticized for failing to have a single feminine investor within the U.S., reduce all ties to Goguen. Within hours of the information breaking, the agency had scrubbed all point out of Goguen from the web site and started in search of replacements for him on a dozen boards. “I was shell-shocked,” Goguen later instructed Bloomberg. “My name and picture were everywhere for doing the worst things, and it was all untrue.”

Secret Recordings

Nash stepped up his harassment and started threatening to disclose unspecified secrets and techniques until Goguen paid him $15 million, in line with the prison grievance. Before lengthy, Goguen felt he had proof of extortion. The county sheriff’s workplace directed him to inform Nash he’d meet to strike a deal. Goguen secretly recorded their dialog, however the noisy restaurant made the outcome inaudible. So Goguen and Nash met once more, this time on the workplace of a Redwood City, California-based legal professional Nash had retained. Using a tool taped inside his shirt cuff, Goguen mentioned he recorded a dialog, throughout which he agreed to pay Nash $15 million if he agreed to not publicize what Goguen mentioned had been false claims. The county sheriff’s workplace raided Nash’s house in April 2016, seizing computer systems, paperwork and weapons, in line with paperwork associated to the Nash divorce.

In November 2017, Nash filed a lawsuit towards Goguen alleging breach of contract for failing to pay the agreed-upon $15 million. When it was revealed that the provide was prolonged on the course of regulation enforcement as a part of a sting, the choose dismissed the go well with with prejudice.

Nash did not surrender, in line with the FBI indictment. While escalating the stress on Goguen with harassing messages to his kids, spouse, ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, work associates, church pastor, charity boards and others alleging vile habits, he additionally expanded his targets, in line with the FBI grievance. This time, he approached individuals with even deeper pockets, in line with the grievance.

Sequoia knew Nash. He had contacted the agency’s companions periodically over time for private {and professional} causes. Shortly after Goguen was pressured out, Nash contacted Doug Leone and Chris Cooper, then the chief monetary officer, requesting a gathering. They met, and Leone and Cooper “quickly determined they would never hire him,” in line with the grievance. After just a few temporary follow-up conversations with Nash, Sequoia retained exterior counsel to deal with future communications and function a buffer. Nash continued to contact Sequoia, and the agency employed an undercover safety guard to sit down within the reception space and take motion if issues arose, in line with individuals acquainted with the state of affairs.

Doug Leone Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

“Bryan Nash was relentless in his threats to spread a wide range of baseless allegations and false rumors about Sequoia and multiple partners,” mentioned a Sequoia spokeswoman. “We believe these efforts were not limited to Sequoia.”

The MeToo Movement

Nash’s alleged extortion coincided with the emergence of the #MeToo motion. Women who had been sexually harassed and assaulted by highly effective males started talking out. In Silicon Valley, the place roughly 90% of enterprise buyers had been males, the temper was particularly tense. Many questioned whether or not they or a colleague can be the subsequent to fall.

The regular stream of headlines detailing unhealthy habits by a few of the nation’s strongest males continued by way of 2018 and 2019. Against that backdrop, Nash continued sending messages to Sequoia and Kleiner Perkins. In one e mail addressed to John Doerr, he alleged one other Kleiner worker had an affair with Goguen. Nash additionally urged Doerr hold the data “confidential” as he’d hate to see Kleiner “dragged into this news cycle” after the agency’s final “bump,” a reference to the extensively coated sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by former associate Ellen Pao. A spokeswoman for Kleiner mentioned Doerr did not learn the e-mail and declined additional remark.

In July 2018, Nash despatched an e mail claiming to have the tail variety of Leone’s aircraft in addition to his house handle and particulars about his household. He messaged Leone once more claiming a girl had implicated him in an incident he declined to specify and mentioned one other girls claimed he was “doing bad things too,” in line with the FBI grievance. Nash additionally wrote that Leone’s spouse would quickly discover out about his alleged misbehavior as he was planning to file a lawsuit and was assembly with particular reporters and publications. The threats had been interspersed with settlement calls for and requests to satisfy. After a sequence of self-imposed deadlines to satisfy and settle with Sequoia had handed, Nash emailed the agency suggesting it arrange a $100 million sufferer’s fund, from which Nash would acquire a 30% administration price. Sequoia reported Nash’s habits to the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office, to no impact. Through a spokeswoman Leone declined to remark about his expertise or that of the agency. The sheriff’s workplace declined to remark.

Federal and native regulation enforcement continued to obtain complaints each about Nash and from him about Goguen. Nash instructed FBI brokers Goguen had drugged, raped or killed a minimum of two women-allegations the FBI investigated and decided had been with out benefit, in line with the FBI prison indictment. Eventually, federal authorities determined that they had sufficient proof to cost Nash, who’s now dwelling in Redwood City close to lots of his alleged targets.

Twelve years after Nash’s marketing campaign of harassment is claimed to have begun, his alleged victims stay on edge. Goguen and others make use of guards and put in safety cameras to guard them at house and work. Even now a plain-clothes safety man maintains a low-key presence within the Sequoia foyer. One of the alleged targets reported having nightmares and dropping vital sleep, in line with the grievance, whereas one other was pressured to go on nervousness remedy. Other alleged targets instructed the FBI they dwell in fixed concern that, despite the fact that false, Nash’s allegations towards them would trigger the lack of their reputations, companies and, in lots of circumstances, their households. Said one alleged sufferer in an interview: “He’s the enemy you never want to have.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV employees and is printed from a syndicated feed.)

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