Controversial investor Shervin Pishevar resurfaces as "vice chairman" of Yeezy




 

Shervin Pishevar, an investor who left Silicon Valley for Miami after being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women in 2017, has resurfaced in a role that will seem familiar to anyone who has tracked his career. According to a new report, Pishevar is now "vice chairman" of Yeezy, the consumer brand controlled by Kanye West, who legally changed his name to Ye last year.

In a Fox Business piece today about Ye's decision to end his relationship with the Gap (he terminated their partnership early and plans to launch his own retail stores), Pishevar was quoted as an executive speaking on Ye's behalf, saying: "There is only one Ye . . . His fingerprints are all over our modern lives, our culture, our clothes, our devices, our music. His influence has changed the very design of our modern lives, and only one other person who I can think of has that ability, and that was Steve Jobs."

While there's no doubt that Ye is the ultimate influencer, Pishevar has never been at a loss for often grandiose language, as longtime industry watchers will know.

He is also known for hitching his wagon to power players, and for flexing his own attendant power -- sometimes in unsettling ways.

A serial entrepreneur who sold a mobile social games company in 2011 for an undisclosed amount, Pishevar joined Menlo Ventures later that same year, persuading the firm to lead the Series B round of Uber. With Uber's star on the rise, Pishevar -- a self-promoter who has said he put $4 million of his own money into the company -- became a kind of de facto spokesman for the firm, routinely tweeting about his relationship to then-CEO Travis Kalanick (he continues to do this) and, less than three years later, using his fast-accruing wealth to cofound his own venture firm, Sherpa Capital.

Things were very much going Pishevar's way -- he was attracting more and bigger stories about himself all the time in the media -- until one of his projects, Hyperloop One, backfired in a big way, with a lawsuit filed by his cofounder in the endeavor accusing Pishevar of nepotism and worse. (One of the most salacious claims made by the cofounder was that Pishevar's brother, brought aboard as the company's high-paid general counsel, threatened the cofounder by leaving a noose on his chair.)

Not long after came those assault accusations along with an allegation of rape in London. Pishevar was never charged with a crime; meanwhile, none of five women who talked with Bloomberg in 2017 about Pishevar, saying he used his increasingly powerful position in the tech world to pursue romantic relationships and unwanted sexual encounters, would identify themselves publicly for fear of repercussions.

Their fear was not unfounded, seemingly. Pishevar has been known to be litigious. He can also be intimidating, as this editor experienced firsthand before an on-stage event with him in 2016. (While Pishevar was charming leading up to the sit-down, once backstage, Pishevar and several of his associates encircled me as he warned in no uncertain terms that he would leave the live interview if I asked certain questions about his business dealings.)

Either way, Pishevar left California after that, and he seems to have successfully reinvented himself in Miami, living lavishly, finding a new audience for his stories, and investing in startups, not all of which have worked out.

Most glaringly, Pishevar lists Bolt Mobility on his LinkedIn page. But the startup, cofounded by famed Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, ran out of money this summer and abandoned hundreds of unusable electric scooters and bicycles in at least eight U.S. cities.

Attaching himself to Ye -- a towering, combative figure that, like Kalanick, does things his own way -- completes the picture in a way. Now to see how long it lasts.

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