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The End of Faking It in Silicon Valley

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Charlie Javice leaving federal court in Manhattan after being accused of falsifying customer data.

Taken together, the chorus of charges, convictions and sentences have created a feeling that the start-up world’s fast and loose fakery actually has consequences.

Credit: Lawrence Neumeister/Associated Press

Faking it is over. That's the feeling in Silicon Valley, along with some schadenfreude and a pinch of paranoia.

Not only has funding dried up for cash-burning start-ups over the last year, but now, fraud is also in the air, as investors scrutinize start-up claims more closely and a tech downturn reveals who has been taking the industry's "fake it till you make it" ethos too far.

Take what happened in the past two weeks: Charlie Javice, the founder of the financial aid start-up Frank, was arrested, accused of falsifying customer data. A jury found Rishi Shah, a co-founder of the advertising software start-up Outcome Health, guilty of defrauding customers and investors. And a judge ordered Elizabeth Holmes, the founder who defrauded investors at her blood testing start-up Theranos, to begin an 11-year prison sentence on April 27.

Those developments follow the February arrests of Carlos Watson, the founder of Ozy Media, and Christopher Kirchner, the founder of software company Slync, both accused of defrauding investors. Still to come is the fraud trial of Manish Lachwani, a co-founder of the software start-up HeadSpin, set to begin in May, and that of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, who faces 13 fraud charges later this year.

From The New York Times
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