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Furthermore — and more insidiously, IMO — Gimlet was probably hesitant to present the Dating Ring as an abject failure or speak openly about any falling-out, because doing so would have discouraged other startups from participating in future StartUp installments: In a sense, the upbeat conclusion seems engineered to protect the StartUp podcast franchise; i. Being part of this podcast will bring you thousands of new customers!

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Their Facebook has been inactive since February; their Twitter has been inactive since May. I think you've summed up the problems with Season 2 very accurately. There's a chance we will hear more about this on this week's 'gimlet-focused' episode of startup. Well done, I think you've nailed it. Personally, it's so disappointing because the first season did such a good job of tying the Gimlet narrative with the nuts and bolts of starting a ventured-backed business.

Start-up S1 gave me a good story and useful advice. S2 made me feel that the narrative, the little that came, was more spin than reality. As I listened, the timeline occasionally confused me. There are too many unknown factors for me to even guess with any confidence, but based on what we do know I'd guess maybe the Colonna meeting? That could have been staged right around the end of April, and it seemed like a fairly traumatic experience for both Lauren and Emma, and it was totally gratuitous.

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I wouldn't be surprised if they felt sandbagged and betrayed and embarrassed, and just said, that's it, we're out. We don't know enough about everything that happened off the air for me to say. I couldn't tell if you were actually positing a theory in your post.

The Colonna meeting sounds like a possibility. For me, the timing of the Colonna meeting is really frustrating.

It shouldn't be frustrating! It should be clear when these things occurred!

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But it's totally vague. Here's what we know:. It was at this time that Emma and Lauren had the blowout fight about the future of the company. That's where she had her "epiphany," and that's when she wrote the email to Emma saying the future looked bleak. So the Dating Ring's pivot to a lifestyle company happened well in advance of the airing of StartUp Season 2's premiere. I also don't think Alex and Lisa would have decided in January that they'd need to use the nuclear option and stage this meeting to prevent a potentially awkward moment in, like, June.

Frankly, there wouldn't have even been TIME for them to do so. I don't think it was in February, because in February the company was undergoing a serious transition and Lauren was in California for at least a week. Emma talks to Lisa on the record about her dissatisfaction re: This isn't a guess, that's a fact. Soon after the pivot, Emma and Lauren re-work the equity split, probably due to the decrease in Lauren's workload and the increased importance of Emma's role in a traditional matchmaking service.

While sorting through a ton of dull audio, Alex and Lisa come across the January interview where Emma confesses to Lisa that she's frustrated about equity. Alex and Lisa want to use this audio -- because it's good stuff! It's like the ONLY good stuff they've got! So, in service of the greater story if not the truth , Alex and Lisa force the Colonna meeting, saying to both Emma and Lauren, "Look guys, you have to do this, because we don't want you to hear something on the podcast that you should first be hearing from one another.

The timing just doesn't allow for it. What's the point of a CEO in a small-scale matchmaking service? The whole point of a CEO is to oversee and guide growth initiatives. Equity is another term for ownership. So it's extremely important what the equity distribution is of any type of business from a lemonade stand to Microsoft. This is a point I wish StartUp had explicated! I sincerely don't understand: As far as I can tell, realistically, in a lifestyle business with two equity owners, any split other than is pretty meaningless, right?

Because at , Owner A can fire Owner B. I'm not being sarcastic; I'm honestly not clear on this: What's the value to the shareholder? That makes perfect sense, thank you! I guess I was seeing non-majority shareholders in lifestyle businesses as little more than tenured employees, because they have no say in whether the profit is distributed or reinvested, or whether to sell the business and at what price, etc. Again, I wish StartUp had expanded on this topic, because it would have been very interesting to me!

I just want to point out that a split is actually very bad when things go sour. Sure, in a split, the majority partner can "fire" the minority partner, but they generally can't eliminate their ownership. However, in a situation, if the partners can't agree, then the company can't do anything at all. Right, and that's exactly what Lauren stressed when she and Emma met with Jerry Colonna -- she didn't want to be in a position where each co-founder could stalemate the other s.

And I thought that was reasonable. But Emma's frustration apparently stemmed solely from the fact that her minority-owner status left her vulnerable to being fired. Again, this is a paramount example of why StartUp Season 2 was such inadequate, irresponsible journalism. Not only did the producers force this conversation to occur, they did so without providing ANY context OR resolution for the listener.

In fact, they deliberately obscured a bunch of details to inflate the perceived conflict. We never learned whether the meeting with Colonna resulted in another renegotiated equity split.


We also never learned what exactly Lauren's role as CEO entailed after the Dating Ring's transition from scalable startup to lifestyle business. She wasn't fundraising, she wasn't trying to develop a tech product. As far as I can tell, she was just rating clients' appearance on a scale and making executive decisions for a company that didn't have much practical use for her anymore. Just one of many vital details that went altogether unresolved. This is like what happened with the whole Market Basket fiasco with the feuding family.

Could it be as simple as that? Nah, that would make sense, but Katie left in mid- to late, before Lisa started reporting the story. Is it also possible that Lisa was interviewing Emma in a kind of "let's set the stage" type interview?

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Basically, asking something like this "Ok, take me back to four months ago, and explain how you were feeling, but do it in present tense, so that it fits the narrative format. Listen for yourself; I've cued it up here:. That said, if Lauren and Emma HAD renegotiated equity prior to StartUp's involvement, wouldn't that further negate the need for Colonna's participation?

Alex says he and Lisa brought Lauren and Emma to meet with Colonna in order to get the two co-founders to talk openly about this topic; Alex didn't want Lauren to be listening to an episode of StartUp and have that be the first place she heard Emma sharing her feelings re: This put us in a bit of a weird position. That Lauren would hear about that for the first time on this podcast seemed just strange. So we knew we wanted to find a way for them to say that stuff to each other, and we knew we wanted it to happen in a way that was helpful, and so that's when we enlisted the help of Jerry Colonna, the CEO whisperer.

So that kind of implies that Emma was sharing something with Lisa that she'd never shared with Lauren, right? But if that audio was recorded during a "let's set-the-stage"-type interview, and Lauren and Emma had redistributed the equity prior to StartUp getting involved, then Emma and Lauren would have talked this out already. There was no danger of "Lauren [hearing] about that for the first time on this podcast" because she would have already heard it and addressed it.

If that were the case, it would actually make the choice to include Colonna even less defensible. So, I'm speaking more from memory, as I haven't gone back and relistened to the episodes in the last couple weeks. That said, I still think it could fit with some semblance of common sense.

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Maybe I'm omitting details, but I essentially see it as this:. Emma expressed a lot of worry about equity in the sense that Lauren was the majority owner, and Lauren could theoretically fire her at any point. Emma didn't have that ability. Just because they redistributed equity doesn't mean they ever had a serious conversation about how uncomfortable Emma was with Lauren having ultimate control.