Manish Maheshwari, the former head of Twitter India, is leaving a startup he co-founded just six months ago following disagreements with co-founder and investors, the startup said Friday.
“I am moving out of Invact to first take a break for a few months and then pursue new opportunities. It is heartbreaking for a founder to leave the startup, like a mother leaving her baby. I am going through the same emotion,” Maheshwari wrote in a tweet.
Maheshwari co-founded Invact Metaversity with Tanay Pratap late last year, as TechCrunch first reported. The startup, which has raised $5 million to date, seeks to launch a metaverse where cohorts of students could take classes. But the startup has so far struggled to ship a product and the two co-founders started to struggle to agree on a vision as early as April, according to an email Pratap sent to investors earlier this month.
Things became more complicated after Gergely Orosz, an early backer of Invact, publicly called out Maheshwari for not listening to anyone and holding the startup “hostage.”
“Manish has been bullying Tanay into silence, threatening to use the company funds of $1.7M – including our angel investment money – to sue him, should Tanay speak ill of him in public,” Orosz wrote in an email to other investors this week, reviewed by TechCrunch.
“This broke the straw with me, as that includes my money: which I never invested to be used as an instrument of a cofounder bullying the other one. Manish keeps walking back on promises he made to named investors, then breaking them. Names investors were meeting the terms he put up to accept the exit settlement so the company can continue operating. He then walks back on these terms. He has been doing this for weeks,” he wrote.
Invact raised a $5 million round earlier this year from dozens of angel investors at a valuation of $33.5 million. It was putting together a new round at $100 million valuation, according to a source familiar with the matter.
In his Twitter thread today, Maheshwari described Tanay as “brother.”