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But by this summer, Rothenberg Ventures’ culture of awesome evaporated as it apparently ran out of operating money and came under federal scrutiny.
The future of the firm — and the million it has under management — is now up in the air as his investors wonder if he has lost control of his business. In late August, her replacement filed a lawsuit alleging that Rothenberg had asked him to charge business expenses on his personal Am Ex — and then refused to reimburse him for charges totaling 9,000.
At Stanford, he earned the nickname (unbeknownst to him, he says) “the Machine,” for his workaholic drive as much as his stiff demeanor back then.
After getting a bachelor’s and master’s in management science and engineering, Rothenberg consulted at Bain & Company, one of a series of finance-related jobs he held before enrolling at Harvard Business School.
“I was putting too much focus on our portfolio companies and connecting the companies with our advisors and LPs, and not enough internally. I didn’t hire and fire well.”For all of the concerns that have been raised, Rothenberg kept his investor meeting to just 30 minutes, and did not invite people listening by phone to ask questions.
The SEC is investigating the firm, triggering an exodus of employees.
In mid-August, Rothenberg put every remaining employee except his lawyer on unpaid leave.
On the last Monday in August, Mike Rothenberg — millennial venture capitalist, virtual reality check-writer, unhappy title-holder of “The Valley’s Party Animal” — called an emergency meeting with his investors.
More than one hundred limited partners in his venture funds showed up; they were invited to dial in by phone, but many flew in for the meeting, including his dad.