Some investors have started to distance themselves from Dispo, a rapidly growing photo sharing app, after its co-founder, YouTube inventor David Dobrik, became embroiled in controversy.
Dispo, launched in 2019, is a photo-based social platform similar to Instagram that mimics the experience with a single-use camera. Photos taken via the Dispo app need 24 hours to “develop” and appear in a user’s feed.
In October, Dispo raised $ 4 million in a funding round led by Seven Seven Six, the company owned by Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit. In February, the company received an additional $ 20 million from funding led by Spark Capital. The financing amounted to overdraft facility with 200 million US dollars.
In an Insider investigation published last week, Mr Dobrik was accused of having played a role in a sexual assault scandal involving a former member of his “Vlog Squad”. He later informed The Information that he would be leaving Dispo and stepping down from its board of directors. And some of Dispos investors have also started to pull out.
On Sunday, Spark Capital said it would “cut off all connections to Dispo”. “We have stepped down from our position on the board and are currently taking precautions to ensure that we do not benefit from our recent investment in Dispo,” the venture company published on Twitter.
On Monday, Mr. Ohanian and Seven Seven Six also issued a statement calling the allegations against Mr. Dobrik “extremely worrying” and “directly contrary to the core values of Seven Seven Six”. Mr. Ohanian posted on Instagram that he and Seven Seven Six supported Mr. Dobrik’s decision to leave the company.
Seven Seven Six also said on Twitter that it would donate any profits from its investment “to an organization that works with sexual assault survivors”.
Unshackled Ventures, another early investor in Dispo, said Monday it would also donate profits from its investment to organizations that focus on sexual assault survivors, including Maitri, which focuses on helping South Asian domestic violence survivors.
“We’re a female majority team that doesn’t take this lightly. We fully support their decision to part with David, ”Unshackled Ventures said in a statement.
Dispo and Mr Dobrik did not respond to requests for comments.
In the past year, many investors fell in love with the influencer world. “I feel like something has changed noticeably among investors in the past year, and it seems like everyone is now talking about the creator economy and investing in creator tools,” said Li Jin, founder of Atelier, a venture company Company investing in Creator Space The New York Times in December.
But some popular YouTube stars have come under fire over the past year for scandals of racism and sexual assault.
Mr Dobrik is one of the most popular creators of YouTube with more than 18.7 million subscribers on his main channel. After gaining fame with Vine, the short video app, he and a group of friends called “Vlog Squad” began creating short, comedic content that often included stunts for sites like YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.