Michael Goguen — a longtime venture capitalist whose career at Sequoia Capital ended earlier this year after he was sued in a salacious breach of contract suit that accused him of sexually mistreating a woman named Amber Baptiste and then refusing to honor a financial arrangement they made afterward — has been hit with yet another strange lawsuit. But this one has a surprise twist.
Filed Friday in San Mateo County Court, Goguen is this time being accused of breaching a contract with a former acquaintance named Bryan Nash, who says in his lawsuit that Goguen agreed to pay him a whopping $19 million for public relations and asset management services, then didn’t.
Sounds strange, right? Keep reading.
According to Nash’s suit, he first met Goguen in 1994 and they became “friends.” As Nash and Goguen’s “friendship developed,” they enjoyed “joint family gatherings,” took “vacations together,” went “mountain biking together,” and also exercised together.
Fast forward to April of this year (and the suit basically does precisely that), and Nash “stated to [Goguen] that he was going to consult with an attorney to see what legal rights he had that would addressing the wrongs he felt had been done to him by Goguen.”
The suit does not outline these alleged wrongs, but it goes on to say that, “Goguen stated that he did not think that was necessary, but rather [that Goguen and Nash] could just come to an agreement to address these wrongs, and other issues, and suggested that they work together.”
What the two settled on, says Nash, were “services” that Nash would provide for Goguen, including “unrelated professional and personal assistance to Goguen for the payment of $19 million.”
According to the suit, Goguen then agreed to wire an initial payment of $15 million. Yet “before the funds were deposited through the wire transfer,” it states, “Goguen withheld, or revoked” the transfer, leaving Nash with bupkis.
Now, Nash is suiting for “damages due to this breach” to the tune of $15 million.
If this lawsuit doesn’t seem to add up, it’s for good reason, say numerous sources who tell us the contract was part of a sting operation.
By their telling, Nash came out of the woodwork after seeing Baptiste’s lawsuit. Goguen immediately went to the authorities; they then worked with Goguen on establishing terms of the bogus contract.
A source at the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office confirms that there’s an “active criminal investigation ongoing,” but declined to comment further.
An attorney at the Mission Viejo, Ca.-based personal injury law firm that Nash has hired, Alan Brown, declined to comment for this story, saying that “due to communications with Mr. Gougen’s counsel, my co-counsel, Rivers Morrell, and I will not be able to make any comments until on or about December 20, 2016. If something develops before that I shall let you know.”
Asked about Nash’s lawsuit, Goguen’s attorney, Diane Doolittle, the co-chair of the trial practice at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, referred us to a spokesman for Goguen.
That spokesman sent us the following statement: “Mr. Nash is the subject of an active, ongoing criminal investigation for extortion. The events that supposedly form the basis of Mr. Nash’s civil lawsuit were all part of a government sting operation. Mr. Goguen was acting at the direction of law enforcement in his dealings with Mr. Nash. Mr. Goguen had reported to the police that Mr. Nash threatened to publish false and incendiary information unless Mr. Goguen paid millions of dollars. There was no contract with Mr. Nash and no breach. The lawsuit against Mr. Goguen has no merit whatsoever.”
Nash lists himself as a consultant on LinkedIn, which also states that he worked previously for Bowman Capital Management, a hedge fund that went out of business in 2005.
Looking through San Mateo County filings, Nash’s name also appears on a 2012 request for a restraining order against him by the parent of a classmate of his own child.
You can read about his case against Goguen below.
Meanwhile, Baptiste’s case against Goguen, who has filed a counter-complaint against her, is set to begin in May of next year.