So profound is the Valley's belief in redemption, that it's hard for anyone to accept that a career can lurch merely from failure to failure. Here's one such story: David Hayden, founder of Magellan and Critical Path and one of Silicon Valley's most unfortunate entrepreneurs, has suffered yet another reverse. Jeteye, the obscure social search engine he founded three years ago, has had the deposit on its Pacific Avenue offices seized after falling two months behind on rent. Will Hayden's troubles ever end?
According to the company's largely dormant website, Jeteye, which claimed $2.5m in backing and 20 employees in 2005, is "leading all other start-ups" in creating a Web 3.0 infrastructure. Which must have distracted Hayden from the more prosaic task of keeping up with the $8,000-a-month cost of the San Francisco headquarters. Our spy snapped a picture of the landlord's demand for payment.
Throughout his career, Hayden, a confident charmer with the wild frizzy hair of Don King, has suffered from a mixture of bad luck and bad judgment. He married into the family of Britain's leading homegrown media mogul, Robert Maxwell, who then died, a probable suicide, after raiding his own workers' pension funds.
Hayden's first internet venture, Magellan, lost its bankers, missed the public offering window for search engines, and was offloaded in a firesale to Excite. One of its potential merger partners was run by a journalist, Michael Wolff, who wrote a devastating portrayal of Hayden, his wife and sister-in-law.
With Critical Path, an email outsourcing company that soared during the last boom, Hayden seemed finally to have achieved financial success — until it emerged that the company had overstated revenues. Hayden had to sell the share of an original copy of the Declaration of Independence he bought when his Critical Path stock was worth something; and his brokers moved to repossess his $9.1m mansion on Jackson Street in Pacific Heights.
There's been no statement on Jeteye's status. The company's still advertising for a web developer. But the jobs page hasn't changed in a year. Hayden's latest venture shows all the symptoms of a venture in its terminal stages. He's obviously a resilient individual, who has bounced back from other reverses, such as being fired from Critical Path by his wife, before returning to the helm. However, three times unlucky would give pause to even the most oblivious of optimists. Hayden said of himself: "I'm a Renaissance kind of person. I like to do lots of different things." Different things. He should try one of them.