Nov 16, 2023 - Business

Ex-venture capitalist Mike Rothenberg found guilty of fraud

Photo collage of a gavel and a dollar bill.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former venture capitalist Mike Rothenberg was found guilty by an Oakland jury Thursday on all charges that he lied to investors and Silicon Valley Bank over how his firm was spending investment capital.

Why it matters: This is the latest fraud conviction in a slow trickle of venture-fueled FOMO (fear of missing out), where investors skirted usual due diligence in the chase of the next big thing.

Flashback: Rothenberg's venture firm, which was lampooned by HBO's "Silicon Valley" show, was known for hosting lavish events — paid for with its investors' capital — and touting itself as a leader in backing cutting edge virtual reality tech.

  • The firm began to collapse in 2016 following media reports of his misuse of funds and internal disarray.
  • In 2018, Rothenberg settled charges with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Another criminal trial a year ago, on two separate charges, ended with a hung jury and a mistrial. Despite a request to be acquitted, Rothenberg will be tried again on those charges at a date to be determined.

What's next: His sentencing has been set for March 1, 2024.

Go deeper: FOMO fuels venture-backed fraud trials

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