CEO and founder of Singapore-based blockchain startup Otonomos, Han Verstraete, has penned a blog post alleging an attempt by the company’s board and its CTO to remove him from his position.
Otonomos uses a blockchain to provide services related to company incorporation and governance.
According to the post, published on Medium on September 24, Verstraete says the startup’s employees and shareholders received an email from Mano Thanabalan, Otonomos’ CTO. Signing the email as “CEO ad interim,” Thanabalan allegedly wrote that Verstraete had stepped down as CEO, effective immediately and that the board appointed him to take over in the meantime.
Verstraete includes a screenshot of the full email and denies he has stepped down. “Instead, there was an attempt by the two VCs on my Board, who together hold less than 14 percent of Otonomos, in collusion with the company’s CTO, to terminate me as CEO and take control of the business,” he writes.
He adds that he’s currently challenging the “lawfulness” of the move but doesn’t provide more details. The Otonomos website, meanwhile, has not been accessible since the night before this story was published. (Update, 12pm SGT: The website now seems to work normally)
The two VCs that have invested in Otonomos so far according to Crunchbase are Singapore-based Dymon Asia Ventures and Shanghai’s Fenbushi Capital, which lists Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin as a general partner.
Crunchbase, which has been updated to list only Thanabalan as a team member and CEO ad interim, also includes Dymon’s Christian Kaptein as a board member. However, Verstraete does not specifically name any person or company in his post.
Verstraete claims to have the support of other investors who are not on the board, whose combined stakes in Otonomos is over 85 percent. Verstraete himself invested in his startup, while accelerator Startupbootcamp Fintech Singapore has also poured in some funding – Otonomos was part of its inaugural Singapore cohort.
He claims that before the email went out, the startup was doing due diligence to raise a US$6 million series A round with “some of the world’s most recognizable VCs.” He adds that Otonomos has over 500 clients and started posting “solid profits month after month” just a year-and-a-half after its launch.
We have reached out to the parties involved for their comments, but have not heard back.
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