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Businesses

Story Of a Founder Who Burned Through $21M While His Social App Fling Crashed (businessinsider.com) 232

London-based social media app Fling, which never brought in any revenue, burned through $21 million in less than three years. According to a Business Insider report, the founder splashed out on 1st class flights, Ibiza hotels, and Michelin-star restaurants (Editor's note: The link could ask users to disable their adblockers; alternate source. From the report: In early July 2015, temperatures were rising in the boardroom on the top floor of a 12-story office block in Hammersmith, West London. Marco Nardone, the 28-year-old CEO and founder of social media app Fling, had called an emergency meeting the day after his app was removed from the App Store by Apple for being too similar to the notorious Chatroulette platform. The atmosphere was tense and Nardone was furious, three former employees said, because his COO, Emerson Osmond, had gone behind his back. Specifically, he was angry because Osmond had told Nardone's assistant not to order tents for the office that would allow staff to sleep by their desks and work around the clock to get Fling back onto the App Store, a former employee told Business Insider. Nardone shouted and swore at Osmond before squaring up to him as if he was about to do something more, said two former employees. [...] On the day, Nardone asked staff to work late so they could address the issue. The CEO turned up in the middle of the night with two women that staff had never seen before and took them into a room, according to three former employees.
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Story Of a Founder Who Burned Through $21M While His Social App Fling Crashed

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:13AM (#53826271)

    1st class flights, Ibiza hotels,and Michelin-star restaurants.

    The rest was squandered I suspect

    • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:18AM (#53826325) Journal

      oh, don't be so cynical. i'm sure a good chunk of it went to hookers and coke.

      • i'm sure a good chunk of it went to hookers and coke.

        Indeed:

        regularly seen in with mysterious women on business trips and at parties

        Clearly "mysterious women" is a spelling of "prostitute" that I haven't seen before.

      • oh, don't be so cynical. i'm sure a good chunk of it went to hookers and coke.

        I, unfortunately, RT whole FA.

        "He started getting thin after visiting Ibiza." That means that he discovered cocaine.

        So, yes, sir, he discovered blow. And paying to be blown.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      You don't want me in your Appstore? Fine, I'll go build my own social media app, with blackjack and hookers!

  • I guess he wanted to "work late"
  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:16AM (#53826301)

    They don't like my add blocker and I am not turning it off for them.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      They don't like my add blocker and I am not turning it off for them.

      This is pretty common these days especially sites which have basically turned into a blog farm. Business Insider, Forbes, Telegraph, Vice, Vox, etc. The Guardian is getting there, won't surprise me in the next couple of years if they start pushing the same garbage. They can crash and burn for all it worth though. Some sites are suffering worse for it then others, and there's new media rising to replace it all anyway.

      • This.

        I know goddam well they know I hit the "fuck you," button as I declined to show my papers.

        There's always another way.

        They have their systems tactics -- I have mine.

      • there's new media rising to replace it all anyway.

        But who is paying for the "new media"? And do they have a political agenda?

        • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @04:07PM (#53828739) Journal

          All media has a political agenda. The old media is collapsing for lack of anything except a political agenda. The real question is "who will pay for investigative reporters" in the new media world. Ideally, we'll have them from all sides. Project Veritas, a very small group with a right-wing agenda, is a stark contrast to the lack of similar investigative work on the left (at least in the US) for the past several years. I like Project Veritas: real, old-school undercover work, but they're never going to e.g. find scandalous corruption in the NRA or Trump's businesses.

          Any idiot can read the news and tell me what I'm "supposed to think" about it. Fuck those guys. Show me the hidden camera footage - that's a real journalist.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      They don't like my add blocker and I am not turning it off for them.

      That's why we come to slashdot! For the story-within-the-story experience.

      Not only that, but they offer "Get ad-light access for just $1" (the best of both worlds, pay and see ads).
      And the ad offer is a solid image instead of using some stupid old-fashioned text in a browser (e.g., I couldn't copy-paste it)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:38AM (#53826519)

      They don't like my add blocker and I am not turning it off for them.

      Perhaps if you used a subtract blocker instead....

    • They had no problem with mine ... (ublock Origin - Chrome)

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Well, that is what they want. If you are unwilling to look at the ads, they are unwilling to give you the content. Seems like a win-win.

      Or do you think you are somehow entitled to see their content?

      If not showing the content is a good idea or not is besides the point. They think it is and it is their content.

      • No that is kind of exactly the point. It's a dumb idea and people go elsewhere. Lose, lose. This wouldn't even be an issue if they dialed back the advertising nonsense to something resembling sanity.
        • Too late. I for one wouldn't notice. Not switching off my ad blocker to see if it's manageable without (and that's before taking into account the risks of drive-by attacks and so).

      • The amount of malware served up as advertising makes it completely ethical to block ads and just stay a technical step ahead of their 'ad block detector vans'.

        Fuck 'em all, right in the ear. 'What they think' doesn't matter.

      • by dcollins117 ( 1267462 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @03:07PM (#53828269)

        Or do you think you are somehow entitled to see their content?

        Once upon a time the internet was a place to put information you wanted to share with other people. Not "I just want money. I don't give a shit about you. I gets my money maybe I'll give you little a trinket of content you stupid git."

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        Or do you think you are somehow entitled to see their content?

        It seems like they want to share their content. They just can't figure out how to monetize it. Really not my problem.

        Most of what I watch these days is Patreon-funded, because you can't depend on advertising revenue in the first place if you want to talk about anything controversial (and not just politics - game reviews are even crazier in this regard).

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      Usually at this point I decide it wasn't really worth reading anyway and move on. But if it's something I might want to read I find that using the QuickJava add-on for firefox to disable javascript for a few minutes works nearly all the time.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:16AM (#53826307)
    The COO was right: you don't need TENTS to sleep indoors. Instead he should have just bought some sleeping bags and a couple of pillows.
    • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:24AM (#53826393) Homepage

      Homer: Sir, I need to know where I can get some business hammocks.
      Scorpio: Hammocks? My goodness, what an idea. Why didn't I think of that? Hammocks! Homer, there's four places; there's the Hammock Hut, that's on Third.
      Homer: Uh-huh.
      Scorpio: There's Hammocks Are Us, that's on Third, too.
      Homer: Got it.
      Scorpio: You got Put Your Butt There...
      Homer: Mm-hmm.
      Scorpio: ...that's on Third.
      Homer: Yes.
      Scorpio: Swing Low Sweet Chariot...
      Homer: Right.
      Scorpio: Matter of fact, they're all in the same complex... it's the Hammock Complex, down on Third?
      Homer: Oh, the Hammock District!

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      you don't need TENTS to sleep indoors. Instead he should have just bought some sleeping bags and a couple of pillows.

      The cost is the same, for all in tents and porpoises.

  • You're supposed to at least go to IPO before you squander other people's money.
    • No, squandering angel investor and venture capital money can be just as fun. It's like teaching them a lesson...
  • by drunken_boxer777 ( 985820 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:26AM (#53826413)

    This guy has what it takes to be a future banking exec, pharma exec, or a US senator. He'd better immigrate now, before the US builds a wall on its border with the UK.

  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:37AM (#53826509)
    A narcissistic douche in love with himself, a fondness for hookers, burns through money and leaves a trail of debt and bad business in his wake. He should run for office.
  • Money! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by monkeyxpress ( 4016725 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:37AM (#53826511)

    One useful thing I remember reading about Lord Sugar (that champion of business, who made most of his fortune from buying rental properties, yay) is when he talked about the days after the Amstrad IPO. Most of his management became instant millionaires (which meant something back then), and he commented that some turned up at work the next day and continued with no perceptible change in their behavior, while others rocked on up late in a brand new car and proceed to turn into giant egos. The most interesting thing is that he didn't seem to think there was any predictor as to how someone would turn out.

    In my own short business career I would tend to agree with this. It is extremely hard to know how someone will behave when they come into money, because most people do not have much money or any hope of getting it. You can have people who appear frugal and responsible, and they will always tell you how responsible they will be if they ever got money, but in my experience none of this prevents them undergoing a quite remarkable gollum like transformation when a large enough quantity of cash is placed in front of them.

    It would appear this guy falls into the 'drunk on money' category. Personally I'm surprised the VC's or whoever put the money up let him get away with this sort of behavior. Someone like that is not going to ever make you money, because for them money is the end, not the means by which you can build a profitable organisation.

    • by Shimbo ( 100005 )

      Personally I'm surprised the VC's or whoever put the money up let him get away with this sort of behavior.

      I suspect that most of the money coming from his father had something to do with it but even then there were limits on how much money he was willing to spend indulging Nardone Jr.

      • by colfer ( 619105 )

        Besides his father, or perhaps after his father got sick of it, seems it came down to one well-connected VC, "ex-Goldman Sachs", those who followed his advice, and his "54-metre mega-yacht." (Quoting TFA.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I'm sure this is actually a strategy for some people. Not spending all the cash on themselves, that's just a nice bonus, but spending lots of money on extravagances so that it looks like their business is well funded and on the up. If you turn up at the company and everyone has a Herman Miller chair and expensive car, it projects a very different image to a few people in a spartan office with a stack of empty pizza boxes in the corner. Even on the personal level, meeting a CEO who looks rich makes it seem l

      • by tibit ( 1762298 )

        Joel Spolsky had this to say about the chairs, and I agree with him:

        Let me, for a moment, talk about the famous Aeron chair, made by Herman Miller. They cost about $900. This is about $800 more than a cheap office chair from OfficeDepot or Staples.

        They are much more comfortable than cheap chairs. If you get the right size and adjust it properly, most people can sit in them all day long without feeling uncomfortable. The back and seat are made out of a kind of mesh that lets air flow so you don’t get sweaty. The ergonomics, especially of the newer models with lumbar support, are excellent.

        They last longer than cheap chairs. We’ve been in business for six years and every Aeron is literally in mint condition: I challenge anyone to see the difference between the chairs we bought in 2000 and the chairs we bought three months ago. They easily last for ten years. The cheap chairs literally start falling apart after a matter of months. You’ll need at least four $100 chairs to last as long as an Aeron.

        So the bottom line is that an Aeron only really costs $500 more over ten years, or $50 a year. One dollar per week per programmer.

        A nice roll of toilet paper runs about a buck. Your programmers are probably using about one roll a week, each.

        So upgrading them to an Aeron chair literally costs the same amount as you’re spending on their toilet paper, and I assure you that if you tried to bring up toilet paper in the budget committee you would be sternly told not to mess around, there were important things to discuss.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          I have a Mirra and love it. Mine was second hand though, good but not mint condition. I like them a lot, but when you are a start-up they are a bit of an extravagance. You get cheap chairs and when you are more stable upgrade.

      • I used to know some people at a small (6 person) business. The company scraped up enough money to lease a Jaguar automobile just so that they could drive it to client meetings where they would then offer to drive to lunch or whatever.

        I guess it worked to some extent, they did seem to bring in a good amount of business.

    • Re:Money! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by computational super ( 740265 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:59AM (#53826727)
      You're observing the wrong person. Observe his wife if you want to know how much cash he'll burn through given the opportunity.
    • It would appear this guy falls into the 'drunk on money' category.

      Read TFA. His dad was his biggest investor. He was not new to money.

    • I'd say there are pretty good predictors, but I'm an engineer. Some people/cultures look at money as a long term asset, and others see it as cash. If I was able to cash out of my business for ~$3 million I would hope to work 80 hours per month and travel more. Neither of my partners would be likely to do anything different; they will retire in 10 years either way. Of my employees, I can tell you with about 80% confidence which ones would show up unchanged the next day with an extra $3 million in the ban
    • Most of his management became instant millionaires (which meant something back then), and he commented that some turned up at work the next day and continued with no perceptible change in their behavior, while others rocked on up late in a brand new car and proceed to turn into giant egos.

      Not me....

      If I became a multi-millionaire overnight, I wouldn't even show UP to work the next day. I'd quit.

      If I had the kind of money where I could just enjoy the rest of my life....that's exactly what I"d spend my rem

    • As someone once said: "A fool and his money are soon partying."
    • by ghoul ( 157158 )

      Given that he grew up as a Multimillionaires son dont think this was a case of money going to his head. This was a case of spoilt rich kid continuing his normal lifestyle while running a company and normal people (who have not been exposed to the multimillionaire lifestyle) not being able to understand the behaviour. The point is he does not need the company to be rich, he is already rich. Most successfull startup founders need the company to be successfull and the company is their first priority.

  • by jabberw0k ( 62554 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:38AM (#53826521) Homepage Journal

    ...his (program) was removed from the (program) Store by Apple for being too similar to (another program)

    Would Microsoft have ever permitted WordPerfect or Lotus 1-2-3 in the "DOS Program Store"? Anyone developing programs for these treacherous (allegedly "smart") devices gets what they deserve. It seems the entire world is suffering some kind of brain cancer or Stockholm Syndrome with these insidious devices.

    "Apps" are the exact opposite of what Personal Computers are supposed to be. Stop giving them your time and money.

    • Would Microsoft have ever permitted WordPerfect or Lotus 1-2-3 in the "DOS Program Store"?

      Microsoft worked really hard to ensure Lotus 1-2-3 worked seamlessly with DOS. They also worked really hard to have Office beat Lotus on merits. Now, they didn't have a choice - Lotus 1-2-3 was practically mandatory for a business purpose, and an OS/2 only version of Lotus 1-2-3 would have ended MS's dream of a DOS/Windows world.

      The problem is the exclusive app storefronts.

    • "Apps" are the exact opposite of what Personal Computers are supposed to be. Stop giving them your time and money.

      I don't care what computers are supposed to be. As an end user the single thing I care about is do I get value from something that is greater than what it costs.
      I couldn't care less about lock-in to an app ecosystem for a vast majority of what I do. If the app tries to shit on me I take my business elsewhere. Just because it's a curated selection in an App store doesn't change that it's still just software someone wrote and is licensing to you, and from the looks of things there was not only an alternative

  • If only there were someone with business leadership skills like that. We could get him elected President and make American bankrupt, erm.... great again.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      If only there were someone with business leadership skills like that. We could get him elected President and make American bankrupt, erm.... great again.

      Uh, we just had 8 years of that in case you missed it. $10T in new debt - lovely, eh? Hopefully the Orange One will do something better, but I'm not holding my breath.

      • Don't forget that he did have to pay for the two wars that Bush had put on the credit card. With the economy already in flames from the 2008 financial crisis. In case you missed that.
  • by jgotts ( 2785 ) <jgotts@gmail.POLLOCKcom minus painter> on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @11:46AM (#53826601)

    Programming jobs have been plentiful for the past 20 years or so, and they will continue to be into the foreseeable future, until AI becomes so good that it has not only taken over every job but it has taken over programming itself.

    You don't have to tolerate working conditions like this. Exercise your right to quit, and go work somewhere else.

    If you are a programmer, you are making enough money to save some of it. Use that savings as your insurance policy in case you have to quit. If you're living in most countries in the West and you're at least a halfway decent programmer, you should be able to find a new job within a few weeks.

    Don't be greedy. You won't become a millionaire working as a programmer, but you will make plenty of money throughout your life. If you're hanging on to a bad job because of some promise of future wealth, then you're cheating yourself and you wasted your money on that engineering degree.

    The point of being a programmer isn't to become rich. You would have majored in business if you cared about that. The point of being a programmer is to solve interesting problems in novel ways. If you lose sight of that then your career is going to have real problems.

    If you get lucky and somehow wind up with shares that you can cash out for big bucks, then that should be a bonus, but let me give you a word of advice. You will be much happier if you are compensated mostly in cash. Your equity compensation is at the mercy of people who aren't smart enough to solve techncial problems, so they got business degrees. Do you understand now why putting up with a shitty job at a start up is a fool's game?

    • by colfer ( 619105 )

      As for the marketing people, who did quit en-mass when the place got unpleasant, the story reads just like season three of Silicon Valley

    • People have all kinds of reasons they became programmers and don't need someone to tell them which ones are acceptable.
    • From outside (and after the fact), it's very easy to say "quit".

      When you're on the inside, you're busy telling yourself the bad stuff is only temporary, and soon things will get better.

      Also, this part:

      If you're living in most countries in the West and you're at least a halfway decent programmer, you should be able to find a new job within a few weeks

      presumes you are free to move if needed. That's not always possible due to factors like "family" and "mortgage". While there might be plenty of hiring in Silicon Valley, you're living in Buffalo with an underwater mortgage, a wife and kids, an ill parent and a not very good job market.

  • This is usually the moment when the VC says "Oh, I just notice, you'll see France."
    "You want to send me to France?"
    "No, not you, just your eyeballs. Your liver goes to Texas"

  • They got paid while they were working. Look at the app, they were all guilty of trying to milk the system for cash for something that isn't worth the money. Some people are born rich and will always have money, some aren't. That's life.
  • I'm very disappointed that no one has made a joke about his girlfriend's name, Toni Allcock. You all rushed to post jokes about wasting money and women but missed the biggest opportunity.

  • Yawn. Rich guy seduced by his own money & power. So what - lots of companies burn out this way.

    I learned nothing. Well - okay, maybe something: go to work for these people and collect their money.

  • "The link could ask users to disable their adblockers"

    The link could ask me to give it a blowjob but that ain't gonna happen either.

  • "Story Of a Founder Who Burned Through $21M While His Social App Fling Crashed"

    This guy is my spirit animal.

  • This is more "news for gossipers who love salacious stories that don't actually matter."

    Come on Slashdot. Curating the content so that it's relevant reading for tech enthusiasts is WHAT YOU DO. So DO IT.

  • by LordHighExecutioner ( 4245243 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2017 @02:49PM (#53828103)
    The first one is with women, and it is the most enjoyable.
    The second one is with gambling, and it is the fastest.
    The third one is with engineers, and it is the safest.

    It seems that mr. Nardone, to be 100% sure of the outcome, used all of them.
  • Marco sounds like a real piece of Fling
  • The name was a premonition.
  • Oh, you mean a fling for YOU.

  • The CEO turned up in the middle of the night with two women that staff had never seen before and took them into a room, according to three former employees.

    Pure awesome.

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