Gathering Spot sues Greenwood over alleged missed payment
A celebrated business deal combining two of Atlanta's most well-known Black-owned brands has spiraled into a courtroom dispute with allegations of a missed multi-million dollar payment and questionable accounting practices.
What's happening: The founders of The Gathering Spot private membership club and co-working hub allege that Greenwood, a fintech firm that acquired the Gathering Spot in 2022, stiffed them and other investors on a "substantial" agreed-upon payment.
- Greenwood CEO Ryan Glover denied the allegations. The company has filed a counterclaim seeking attorney’s fees and costs and expenses in the litigation.
Catch up quick: TGS was founded in 2016 by Ryan Wilson and TK Petersen as a space for young Black professionals to network, grow their businesses and take meetings. The company's flagship Northyards location became a popular venue for panels, parties and political events.
- TGS expanded with physical locations in D.C. and Los Angeles, and has more than 12,000 individual and corporate members, according to legal documents.
Of note: Greenwood is a mobile banking platform geared toward Black and Latino people. The company takes its name from the Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma where hundreds of residents were killed by white racists in a 1921 massacre.
- Bounce TV founder Ryan Glover and Atlanta tech entrepreneur Paul Judge launched and lead the company. Founding investors include Michael "Killer Mike'' Render and former Mayor Andrew Young, neither of whom are named in the lawsuits.
Details: In a lawsuit filed in February in Fulton County Superior Court, Wilson and Petersen allege that Greenwood failed to make a "substantial" payment to them and other TGS investors earlier this year.
- Wilson filed another lawsuit last week — on the day of a "critical hearing," Glover told Axios in a statement — claiming Glover and Judge paid themselves bonuses instead of the $5 million payout. The lawsuit alleges that Greenwood is insolvent.
Zoom in: Over the weekend, Greenwood said that Petersen would leave the company later this month. Around the same time, the company announced the hiring of a chief financial officer who is white.
- The move prompted a backlash among some TGS members and supporters who argued the decisions undercut the company's mission to elevate Black entrepreneurs and executives, the AJC reports.
The other side: In a statement, Glover said the lawsuits are a "reputational assault" and an effort to "unjustly extract millions of additional dollars" from Greenwood. He added that Greenwood has two years of cash on hand to continue operating "even if there was no revenue growth."
- The company also said its membership, leadership and ownership is majority Black. "Our CEO is Black," the statement said. "[T]hree of our four board members are Black; our largest investor is Black; and the company is majority Black-owned. The company is over 90% Black."
What they're saying: Wilson and Petersen declined to comment citing the pending litigation.
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