Until a recent article from ReadWriteWeb declaring online file-storage and sharing service Omnidrive dead, founder and CEO Nik Cubrilovic was missing in action. The support forums for customers went unattended even as the site went down. An investor, Clay Cook, who sunk six figures into the company couldn't get a reply to his email. Also nowhere to be found? Any reporting from TechCrunch.
After winning kudos from the site that chronicles startups in 2005, Michael Arrington invested in the company. Cubrilovic even contributed to the site and crashed at Michael Arrington's place for a time. What followed were many laudatory posts which, though the relationship was disclosed, didn't state the obvious — that by mid-2007 the company owed customers, investors and employees money.
The only mention that the site, and the company, was facing problems came in an addendum to a post about Joyent. Arrington had stopped writing about the company as investor, but continued to write other companies he'd funded which weren't tanking. Duncan Riley finally pointed out last January that "there are big questions about [Omnidrive's] long term viability." Riley proceeded to defend Cubrilovic on a podcast run by the entrepreneur, before one of the hosts described spending an evening at Arrington's house in January of 2007 "doing shots all night with [Cubrilovic]."
The details that I've heard are that a competitor, possibly Box.net, tried to make a deal that could have at least allowed the company to close the book on some debts; but that because of the company's structure, Cubrilovic had to sign off on the deal, yet was unreachable. Observers say that the CEO's erratic behavior showed a pattern perhaps indicative, in their opinion, of substance abuse. Former CTO Phil Morle's contention that payments went directly to an account held by Cubrilovic sounds like a recipe for a binge-spending disaster.
In an update to his original post that Cook published yesterday, the investor seemed to dance around the issue of alcoholism:
Too many parties, too many conferences, too much working between 1-4am, not enough working normal business hours, too much socializing, not enough focus, no business development, and not enough follow up and delivery.
For Cubrilovic's sake, I hope all this time offline was spent getting some help, but based on his latest round of promises that everything's fine even as the site continues to experience sporadic bouts of uptime, I'm not optimistic. Arrington and his team continuing to ignore the story? In recovery-speak, that's called "codependent enabling." (Photo by Brian Solis)