Some investors have started distancing themselves from Dispo, a fast-growing photo-sharing app, after its co-founder, the YouTube creator David Dobrik, became embroiled in controversy.
Dispo, which launched in 2019, is a photo-based social platform similar to Instagram that mimics the experience of using a disposable camera. Photos were taken through the Dispo app take 24 hours to “develop” and appear on a user’s feed.
In October, Dispo raised $4 million in a funding round led by Seven Seven Six, the firm of Alexis Ohanian, the Reddit co-founder. In February, the company garnered an additional $20 million in financing led by Spark Capital; the funding valued Dispo at $200 million.
But in an investigation by Insider that published last week, Mr. Dobrik was accused of playing a role in a sexual assault scandal involving a former member of his “Vlog Squad.” He later told The Information that he would leave Dispo and step down from its board. And some of Dispo’s investors have also started backing away.
On Sunday, Spark Capital said it would “sever all ties” with Dispo. “We have stepped down from our position on the board, and we are in the process of making arrangements to ensure we do not profit from our recent investment in Dispo,” the venture firm posted on Twitter.
On Monday, Mr. Ohanian and Seven Seven Six also issued a statement calling the accusations against Mr. Dobrik “extremely troubling” and “directly at odds with Seven Seven Six’s core values.” Mr. Ohanian posted to Instagram that he and Seven Seven Six supported Mr. Dobrik’s choice to step down from the company.
Seven Seven Six also said on Twitter that it would donate any profits from its investment “to an organization working with survivors of sexual assault.”
Unshackled Ventures, another early investor in Dispo, said on Monday that it would also donate any profits from its investment to organizations focused on survivors of sexual assault, including Maitri, which is focused on helping South Asian survivors of domestic violence.
“We are a female-majority team that does not take this lightly. We are in full support of their decision to part ways with David,” Unshackled Ventures said in a statement.
Dispo and Mr. Dobrik did not respond to requests for comment.
Over the past year, many investors have become enamored with the influencer world. “I feel like something has palpably shifted in the past year among investors, and it seems like everyone is talking about the creator economy now and investing in creator tools,” Li Jin, founder of Atelier, a venture firm investing in the creator space told The New York Times in December.
But several popular YouTube stars have come under fire over the past year for scandals involving racism and sexual assault.
Mr. Dobrik is one of YouTube’s most popular creators, with more than 18.7 million subscribers on his primary channel. After gaining fame on Vine, the short-video app, he and a group of friends called the “Vlog Squad” began creating short, comedic content often involving stunts for sites such as YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram.News Source: The New York Times