beware the entrepreneur who poses with cuddly animals

Several people have pointed me to this profile of former Newsweek intern and entrepreneur Jerry Guo, who's built a career out of a delicate mix of getting questionable free stuff and stealing tech startup ideas: How Newsweek's Most Notorious Fellow Got Caught Conning Silicon Alley.

Among other shady dealings, Guo apparently posed as a freelance journalist for The Atlantic Monthly in order to learn about Ignighter, a group dating service. He never delivered an article, but a couple of months later he did launch a suspiciously similar startup company, Grouper:
Mr. Guo’s charisma—and his irreverence—were on stark display in the spring of 2011, when he reached out to Adam Sachs, CEO of the very successful group dating site, Ignighter. He told Mr. Sachs that he was a freelance journalist who had been commissioned to write a piece on Ignighter for The Atlantic Monthly, and sent along some of his clips from his time at Newsweek by way of credentials.

"It was really strange," Mr. Sachs said. "He showed up to the interview with this other guy, who I later learned was his co-founder. They asked a ton of questions and we talked for maybe an hour." A few weeks went by and Mr. Sachs heard nothing, so he emailed Mr. Guo to ask about the story. "He told me it was still being edited and that it would come out soon." Another month or so passed. "Then all of a sudden I see Grouper." Both companies relied on users’ social graphs to choose clusters of people they would send on group outings.
Is it me or does Jerry Guo sound like the kind of guy you'd be wise not to do any kind of business with? More of his shady exploits here: AOL Editor Who Fired Grouper's Jerry Guo in 2008 Wishes He Had Warned Others.

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