Jakob Lodwick, the fired founder of Vimeo who's now dabbling in online music, rushed out an announcement of his involvement with Muxtape, an online mix-tapes startup — shortly after we started asking questions. But in his attempt to spoil our scoop, Lodwick may have put the payout he got from Vimeo's parent company, IAC, at risk. We're told that part of Lodwick's severance package included a fairly typical agreement to not poach any of his former Connected Venture colleagues for future projects. But with Muxtape, that's just what Lodwick's done.
Former Vimeo Web designer Justin Ouellette quit Connected Ventures on April 4 to work full-time on Muxtape. Ouellette says he's Muxtape's CEO and founder. In his blog post announcing the project, Lodwick claimed he was "hired" by Ouellette.
But we hear that Muxtape is just as much Jakob Lodwick's company as it Ouellette's. Lodwick may well be footing the bills. After Muxtape's first day, Ouellete wrote that server costs had already reached $118.17. Ouellette can't afford that kind of charge for very long, from what we hear about his finances. Lodwick, who with three other cofounders sold Connected Ventures to IAC, can.
And likely does. We're not surprised. Since shortly he left Connected Ventures, Lodwick has publicly sought to own and operate a music service on the Web. Lodwick is also an active investor in Web services he appreciates — such as David Karp's Tumblr. Lodwick has also served as Muxtape's chief marketer since its launch. (Our coverage of the company began when Lodwick posted about Muxtape nine days before Ouellette quit Connected Ventures.)
Asked if it's good for Connected Ventures and IAC to have departed execs poaching current employees for new startups, Connected Ventures president Josh Abramson told us, "No, it definitely isn't. But to the best of my knowledge that isn't what happened."
If Abramson's knowledge suddenly expands in the coming days, Lodwick wouldn't be the first engineer to get in hot water for poaching talent from an old company while starting a new one. Netscape founder Jim Clark hired away top Silicon Graphics engineers when he started Healtheon. But perhaps Jakob Lodwick isn't Jim Clark and Muxtape merely rhymes with Netscape.