Gabriel Puliatti is an up-and-coming company CEO who, at some point in his career, will need to raise money from investors.
Don't count on Benchmark Capital being one of them.
After Benchmark filed an unprecedented lawsuit against Uber's former CEO on Thursday, Puliatti now says there is "no way" that he will accept an investment from one of Silicon Valley's most prestigious venture capital firms.
And he's not alone. In the immediate aftermath of the suit, Benchmark is facing a sharp backlash from founders who are concerned that the firm is not as supportive of founders as all firms stylize themselves to be.
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The lawsuit, which asks a judge to remove Uber founder Travis Kalanick from the company's board, reflects an aggressive posture from a venture firm that thinks Kalanick is hurting the company's bottom line.
But what could now hurt Benchmark's business is a new fear factor that has gripped a young class of entrepreneurs, who perhaps see Kalanick's ouster as a cautionary tale for their own companies down the road.
"I personally was very shocked by the timeline of affairs during the week (of) Travis's resignation," Puliatti, the founder of a startup called Emptor, said. "I empathized a lot with Travis then."
Puliatti said that afer recent events, he and his co-founder are now more seriously considering not raising money from venture capitalists at all — and said that even if they did, he has decided that he won't "ever sit down" with Benchmark.
Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs forecast the lawsuit will have a chilling effect on the next generation of talent, with one telling Recode that Benchmark will now undoubtedly have to answer "awkward questions in a lot of deals for the foreseeable future." Hazem Awad, a Qatari investor, said that he understood that sort of thinking these days.
"Any entrepreneur would naturally feel nervous about working with Benchmark, at least for the time being," said Awad. "Because in the back of their mind (mine included) will always be the question of, 'What will happen if things get that bad?'"
To be sure, Benchmark remains one of the most prestigious firms on Sand Hill Road, so industry peers still predict that they'll have young founders pounding at their doors regardless. And even if Benchmark's relationship with Uber frayed at the end, their collaboration still produced billions of dollars for both parties — a success by the standard metrics of Silicon Valley that shouldn't go unnoticed by the current crop of rising star founders.
But even the fact that some entrepreneurs are thumbing their noses at Benchmark speaks to just how controversial the lawsuit is in the industry.
No other prominent Uber investors have yet said they publicly support the lawsuit, effectively leaving Benchmark to fight this battle by itself. And Kalanick's team of course has denounced it as an attempt to "silence his voice."