Manish Maheshwari, the former head of Twitter India, is leaving the startup he co-founded just six months ago following disagreements with co-founder and investors.
“I am moving out of Invact to first take a break for a few months and then pursue new opportunities. It is heartbreaking for a founder to leave the startup, like a mother leaving her baby. I am going through the same emotion,” Maheshwari wrote in a tweet.
Maheshwari co-founded Invact Metaversity with Tanay Pratap late last year, as TechCrunch first reported. The startup, which has raised $5 million to date, seeks to launch a metaverse where cohorts of students could take classes. But the startup has so far struggled to ship a product as the two co-founders locked horns and disagreed on the vision, according to an email Pratap sent to investors earlier this month.
Maheshwari, who owned more equity of the startup than Tanay, according to a person familiar with the matter, assumed broader control over the startup’s direction.
Things became more complicated after Gergely Orosz, an early backer of Invact, publicly called out Maheshwari for not listening to any investor and holding the startup “hostage.”
“Manish has been bullying Tanay into silence, threatening to use the company funds of $1.7M – including our angel investment money – to sue him, should Tanay speak ill of him in public,” Orosz wrote to investors this week in an email, reviewed by TechCrunch.
“This broke the straw with me, as that includes my money: which I never invested to be used as an instrument of a cofounder bullying the other one. Manish keeps walking back on promises he made to named investors, then breaking them. Names investors were meeting the terms he put up to accept the exit settlement so the company can continue operating. He then walks back on these terms. He has been doing this for weeks,” he wrote.
Invact raised a $5 million round earlier this year from Arkam Ventures, Antler India, Picus Capital, 2am VC and dozens of angel investors at a valuation of $33.5 million. It was also putting together a new round at a $100 million valuation, according to a source familiar with the matter. It also explored sale of the business, but could not find a buyer.
In his Twitter thread today, Maheshwari described Tanay as “brother.”