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'Silicon Valley's party animal' found guilty of defrauding investors - Palo Alto Daily Post

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Date: 2023-11-20 22:19:50

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Michael Rothenberg

Daily Post Staff Writer

A venture capitalist whose parties at Oracle Park inspired a scene from HBO’s “Silicon Valley” was found guilty by a jury for defrauding investors of over $18 million.

Michael Rothenberg, 39, was known as “Silicon Valley’s party animal” and embraced the TV show’s lampooning of his annual event called Founder Field Day, which was featured in the second season episode titled “Sand Hill Shuffle.”

“It was so on point,” he told the website Vox. “It’s totally fair play to put this on (the show).”

Federal trial

Rothenberg was found guilty Thursday (Nov. 16) of wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements to a bank, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

Rothenberg defrauded investors in two venture capital funds he managed in 2015 and 2016. He also committed wire fraud in February 2016 related to his business River Studios, a VR company that did content for music acts such as Beyonce, Bjork, Coldplay and sports teams such as the Denver Broncos and Sacramento Kings. With River Studios, Rothenberg would transfer large portions of proceeds and put them in various bank accounts.

Misleading investors

Rothenberg would often proclaim River Studios was self-funded by himself, but investigators found that Rothenberg used money from his venture funds to pay for River Studios. He often told investors that their investment would be used for one thing, while spending the money on other things, or other ventures altogether.

The jury also found Rothenberg guilty of committing bank fraud and making false statements to Silicon Valley Bank in 2015 in order to get a $4 million line of credit so he didn’t have to report a cash shortfall to investors, according tot eh DOJ.

Rothenberg will be sentenced on March 1 and is out on bond. He faces up to 60 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines, according to the DOJ.

Original Source: https://padailypost.com/2023/11/20/silicon-valleys-party-animal-found-guilty-of-defrauding-investors/