Gurley on Epinions Lawsuits

The SJ Mercury News ran an interview with Bill Gurley, a VC at Benchmark Capital. On the subject of Epinions:


Q Speaking of the shape you’re in, was the first Epinions case resolved? I noticed a newer, related case arise just this month with different plaintiffs. What’s up?

A EBay settled the suit a year ago, and I wouldn’t consider any of the marginal activity (including the newest suit) very material.

Epinions was founded at the height of the bubble. The team ramped to 130 employees and lots of mistakes were made at that point. When the bubble burst, the business was cut down to 21 employees who spent the next few years working really hard. We held merger discussions with seven companies, got four or five offers and sold to the highest bidder. Then it went public. Some people said we knew it would happen. We didn’t. And if you talk to any of the employees who lived through the hard days, they were extremely excited about the outcome.

Q Another person named in the suits has been Epinions’ co-founder Nirav Tolia, who later became COO of and made tens of millions of dollars from its IPO. He left that post when it was discovered he’d long lied about his work history and educational background, including that he’d graduated from Stanford when he hadn’t. And yet I hear you might back him again in another venture.

A We’ve no commitment to him at this point in time, though I would back him again. He made a mistake, but it happened 10 years ago.


I’m not sure about the specific headcount numbers, but directionally the statement is 100% correct. I haven’t seen details of the latest lawsuit and would welcome more info.