Here's one photo that David Cowan of Bessemer Ventures won't be putting up on their portfolio page: a mugshot of Lifelock founder, Robert Maynard, after he was arrested for failure to pay gambling debts. This is a fabulous story: Kleiner Perkins, Bessemer and other investors have blindly pumped $14m into Maynard's venture, which offers consumers protection against identity theft. The sweet irony: Maynard twisted his 2003 arrest into Lifelock's foundation myth, claiming that he'd been charged, not with default, but, falsely, identity theft. That's ballsy. As amusing, a federal court had banned the Kleiner Perkins entrepreneur from working in the credit-repair business — and he's currently accused of charging $175,000 to a credit card in his father's name.
Now, let's be fair to Cowan and the other investors gulled by the Arizona shyster. Maynard sounds like a extraordinarily bold conman, and they're hard to spot. Investors rely on lawyers and private investigators to do due diligence on founders. For out-of-town investments — this company was based in Tempe, Arizona — venture firms can't rely on the grapevine that enforces good behavior in clubby Silicon Valley. Maynard is no longer with Lifelock.
Nevertheless, it took a local freesheet, the Phoenix New Times, just a few minutes of Google searching to discover Maynard's ban from the credit-repair industry. Blaming the lawyers won't work. Here's who should be really embarrassed by the exposure of the Arizona entrepreneur's seedy past: David Cowan. The Bessemer partner — the investor behind troubled Flock and rumored to be leading the funding of Michael Arrington's Techcrunch news site — was on Maynard's board. As a Cowan protege, Arrington will be a member of a select club.