Poor John Rogers. The former CEO of Pay By Touch can't pin the fall of his online-payments startup, which raised $340 million and employed 750 people before going bankrupt. This self-aggrandizing outlaw has no one but himself to blame.
The saga of Pay By Touch is well-known to Valleywag readers, but the San Francisco Chronicle provides a useful recap. Rogers ran afoul of the law in Minnesota, where he worked at various startups, and then moved to San Francisco, where he charmed investors, including the ultrawealthy Getty family and a group backed by supermarket mogul Ron Burkle, out of $340 million. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's dad, an advisor to the Gettys, invested $50,000 and served on Pay by Touch's board until last year.
Investment bankers at UBS never bothered to dig into his past when peddling his company to would-be backers; if they had, they'd have learned that Rogers's former girlfriends had placed two restraining orders on him in Minnesota. One accused him of slamming her head against a car window; he trashed the other's house, and was ordered to pay $35,000 in restitution for the damage. He'd also been arrested on narcotics charges. But he somehow escaped serious charges for all of these incidents.
According to charges laid out by investors and ex-employees, Rogers was seriously coked up. The allegations include Rogers offering a board member cocaine; ordering a female employee to submit a false expense report to pay for drugs; and going through a failed intervention in a Las Vegas hotel room reportedly orchestrated by a board member.
So where's Rogers today? The Chronicle reached him by phone, where he said he was living in Southern California and working on a new startup. He filed for personal bankruptcy a year ago; in court documents, he told a judge he needed $1,000 a month just for clothes.
In fact, Valleywag has learned, Rogers is living in an upscale apartment complex in Beverly Hills called Blü, where rents range from $3,300 to $12,900 a month. (Residents there are called the "lucky fü.") and he's driving a $90,000 Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUV. Who knows where he gets the money? His company is bankrupt; he's bankrupt; and 750 people are out of their jobs. But John Rogers is still at large, living large.
(Mug shot by Minnesota police)