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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Five years ago, Zocdoc was one of New York's hottest tech companies. It raised venture funding at a $1.8 billion valuation, back when that was still rare, and seemed poised to become the industry standard for physician discovery and appointment scheduling.

Fast forward: According to a lawsuit filed yesterday in the New York Supreme Court, there was a behind-the-scenes power struggle that co-founder and former CEO Cyrus Massoumi now refers to as a fraudulent "coup."

  • Since that time, Zocdoc hasn't raised any VC funding, and investors Founders Fund and Khosla Ventures have relinquished their board seats.

Background: Massoumi's late 2015 departure was referred to in press reports as "relinquishing his day-to-day role," with plans that he'd stick around as company chairman.

  • It was a bit eyebrow-raising, given the company's trajectory, but the company was already eight years old and Massoumi was to be succeeded by a fellow co-founder.
  • In other words, it didn't really make waves.

What's happening: Massoumi alleges in his lawsuit that company co-founders (Nick Ganju and Oliver Kharraz) and CFO (Netta Samroengraja) orchestrated a plot to oust him from the company, during a November 2015 board meeting.

  • At the time, Massoumi claims Zocdoc was in the process of finding replacements for both Kharraz (then COO) and CFO Samroengraja. Both allegedly were aware of those plans, with some candidate interviews even taking place the morning of the board meeting.
  • Massoumi expected the board meeting to be run-of-the-mill, based on prepared board books he received ahead of time.
  • Once the meeting began, however, the expected topics were allegedly eschewed in favor of Ganju and Kharraz moving to fire Massoumi as CEO.
  • The company's voting structure effectively gave proxy control to any two co-founders working together. But Massoumi could have individually assumed majority control via an early exercise feature of his options, had he believed there was a reason to do so.
  • Khosla Ventures partner David Weiden allegedly voted in favor of the switch, with Massoumi alleging he appeared to know about the plan (neither Khosla Ventures nor Weiden is named as a defendent, and Weiden declined comment on the situation).
  • Founders Fund's Ken Howery (now U.S. ambassador to Sweden) allegedly did not support the "coup."

What they're saying: Massoumi claims the company has deteriorated in his absence, and his list of required reliefs includes reinstallation as CEO.

  • Zocdoc did not respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper

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Map: A look at world population density in 3D

This fascinating map is made by Alasdair Rae of Sheffield, England, a former professor of urban studies who is the founder of Automatic Knowledge. It shows world population density in 3D.

Details: "No land is shown on the map, only the locations where people actually live. ... The higher the spike, the more people live in an area. Where there are no spikes, there are no people (e.g. you can clearly identify ... the Sahara Desert)."

Biden's Day 1 challenges: The immigration reset

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President-elect Biden has an aggressive Day 1 immigration agenda that relies heavily on executive actions to undo President Trump's crackdown.

Why it matters: It's not that easy. Trump issued more than 400 executive actions on immigration. Advocates are fired up. The Supreme Court could threaten the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and experts warn there could be another surge at the border.

13 hours ago - Sports

Broncos and 49ers the latest NFL teams impacted by coronavirus crisis

From left, Denver Broncos quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Jeff Driskel during an August training session at UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colorado. Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the NFL season into chaos, with all Denver Broncos quarterbacks sidelined, the San Francisco 49ers left without a home or practice ground and much of the Baltimore Ravens team unavailable, per AP.

Driving the news: The Broncos confirmed in a statement Saturday night that quarterbacks Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were identified as "high-risk COVID-19 close contacts" and will follow the NFL's mandatory five-day quarantine, making them ineligible for Sunday's game against New Orleans.