As technology advances and the demand for innovation and technological solutions is more and more necessary, it is only natural that leaders and gurus emerge who promise to change the game and completely revolutionize everything. These visionaries often capture the attention of society and companies with their ideas, their charisma and their ability to communicate.
These figures to be exhibited have captured the attention and admiration of those who seek inspiration and success in the technological field, as well as all the people who listen to their incredible lives and business models.
However, at times, some of these characters have turned out to be scams, defrauding investors and disappointing those who trusted them one day.
The guru stories featured in this article serve as a reminder that not all tech leaders and entrepreneurs are what they seem. Many of them are the clear example of not getting carried away by grandiose promises and convincing speeches.
Adam Neumann, co-founder and former CEO of WeWork
Adam Neumann is an Israeli-American businessman known primarily for being the co-founder and former CEO of WeWork, a co-working space company —coworking—. Neumann founded WeWork in 2010 together with Miguel McKelvey and he quickly became a fairly respected figure in the business and technology sector.
Under Neumann’s leadership, WeWork experienced rapid growth and became one of the most valuable startups in the world. The company focused on creating modern and flexible workspaces for professionals and companies of various sizes and expanded internationally with locations around the world.
However, in 2019, WeWork was planning its IPO, at which time a series of controversies and concerns about the management and financial viability of the company arose. Details were revealed about WeWork’s internal work culture and Neumann’s outlandish behavior, including wild partying and questionable business decisions.
Concerns about the inflated valuation of the company and its unsustainable business model led to the cancellation of the IPO and the resignation of Adam Neumann as CEO in September 2019. He also faced lawsuits and criticism for his handling of the company. and the decisions you made.
John McAfee, Founder of McAfee
This American businessman and programmer is recognized for founding the company software McAfee antivirus, which bears his name. McAfee pioneered its development and played an important role in the cybersecurity industry.
McAfee founded McAfee Associates in 1987 and released one of the first commercial antivirus programs. His company was considerably successful and became one of the leading companies in software security in the world. However, in 1994, McAfee left the company and sold his shares.
After his departure, he was involved in a series of highly controversial business and personal activities: investments in different companies and projects, as well as an extravagant and controversial public life.
He also became an advocate for online privacy and freedom and was critical of government agencies and surveillance programs. In addition, he ran as a candidate for the presidency of the United States in 2016 and 2020, under the “Cyber Party” party on the first occasion and the “Libertarian” party on the second.
John McAfee died in June 2021 in Spain while awaiting his extradition to the United States, where he was facing Tax evasion and fraud charges related to cryptocurrencies. His death generated extensive media coverage and speculation.
Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos
Elizabeth Holmes is an American businesswoman who is the founder and former CEO of Theranos, a California-based blood test technology company. Holmes gained great prominence by promoting her company’s technology as a revolutionary innovation that could perform multiple blood tests with a single drop, using portable devices.
At 31, she was a super-famous young businesswoman in a male-dominated Silicon Valley. By then, his company was worth close to $9 billion. He came to be compared to Bill Gates due to his visionary approach to the technology industry and his undeniable youth and entrepreneurship.
Under her leadership, Theranos achieved a multi-million dollar valuation and captured the attention of the media and investors. However, In 2015, a series of irregularities and questions about Theranos technology were revealed.
It was discovered that the company’s blood tests did not work as claimed and that most of the tests were performed on traditional laboratory machines instead of the company’s devices.
Specifically, in 2021, Holmes was tried in California for fraud. Through whistleblower disclosures and a reporter’s investigation of the Wall Street Journalit came to light that more than 200 blood tests could not be performed on the company’s specially developed machine, while the results of the few tests were faulty and unreliable.
On January 3, 2022, Holmes was found guilty of 4 counts of investor fraud: 3 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit fraud. In November 2022, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Mike Lynch, founder of Autonomy Corporation
Mike Lynch is a British entrepreneur and technologist best known for being the founder and former CEO of Autonomy Corporation, a software From United Kingdom. Autonomy specialized in information search, analysis and management technologies, and became one of the companies software most successful in the country.
Lynch founded Autonomy in 1996 and was recognized for his innovative approach in the field of natural language processing and artificial intelligence. The company experienced significant growth and became one of the top technology companies in Europe.
However, in 2011, Autonomy was acquired by HP for nearly $11 billion. Shortly after the acquisition, HP accused Mike Lynch and other former Autonomy executives of inflating revenue and the value of the company before the purchase.
The case resulted in a fairly long and highly publicized legal battle. In 2019, a UK court found Lynch and other former executives guilty but continued to deny the allegations.
Mani Thawani, co-founder and CEO of Mundo Crypto
Mani Thawani has become one of the most influential cryptocurrency investment icons in Spain. An apparently absolute success story that has not gone unnoticed: a complicated childhood, with no opportunity to study and working from a very young age.
However, his life took a 180 degree turn when Bitcoin crossed his path and caused a change in his life at all levels, not only professionally but also financially, personally and in his philosophy of life. When he made his first investment (he does not say how much it amounted to) the cryptocurrency was at $273 (20,627 euros at the time of writing this report).
Crypto world after its birth in 2019, It was the largest cryptocurrency academy in Spain with more than 40,000 students.
However, the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) has already warned on numerous occasions that the creators “They do not have any kind of license to advise on financial instruments or broker investment operations on financial instruments”.
Despite this, Mundo Crypto has always managed to escape from that label of “pyramid scam” and the Canarian businessman always insisted that the investment facet is residual and that Mundo Crypto compares more with the large online training platforms, such as Coursera or udemi.
At the beginning of 2023 it was possible to know that it was closing in Spain. In an official statement, the crypto company explained that it will continue to operate from the United Arab Emirates and blames the Spanish regulatory bodies for the closure.