Founder says YC-sponsored fintech startup is “copying and pasting” its business – TechCrunch

A new startup to promote the elements of competing companies is not uncommon in today’s business world, but sometimes competing creators don’t find that imitation flattering.

Andy Bromberg, CEO of a16z-sponsored Eco startup, says Pebble, another fintech startup that came out secretly this morning, “plagiarized” Eco’s materials and business model. Bromberg He posted a thread on Twitter saying this afternoon Pebble has been “copying and pasting, immature, lying and spying.” In the thread, Bromberg set out the background to his claims, and also spoke to TechCrunch about the allegations.

Bromberg says Pebble’s founders, CEO Aaron Bai and CEO Sahil Phadnis, have replaced Y Combinator investors to gain access to Eco’s waiting list. In addition, Phadnis says he asked specific questions about Eco’s backend, how to look for a job, and how many aspects of Pebble’s product and marketing language are essentially copy-pasted from Eco.

Bromberg’s Twitter thread encouraged Yes and Phadnis to get in touch with Bromberg directly. When TechCrunch contacted Pebble this afternoon to ask for comments on the topic, Bai said he was trying to contact Bromberg and in the meantime declined to comment further on the topic. We will update this post accordingly if they provide us with more information.

TechCrunch reported earlier today that Pebble, which participated in the Y Combinator Winter 2022 cohort, raised $ 6.2 million from YC itself, LightShed Ventures, Eniac Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Montage Ventures, Soma Capital and Angel together with investors.

On its website, Pebble, created last year, calls itself “the first app that pays you to save, spend and send your money, all in one balance.” It was launched with two core products: an APY interest offer of 5% of customer deposits and a 5% cashback offer when customers spend on their partner merchants, including Uber, Amazon and Chipotle, according to Pebble CEO Aaron Bai. The first product is based on the model of taking customer funds, converting them into stable currencies and lending them to organizations, Baik then explained.

Bromberg told TechCrunch that the two core products were based on two of Eco’s core offerings. Eco describes itself on its website as “a simple balance that allows you to spend, send, save, and make money.” Eco, founded in 2018 and raising more than $ 95 million from investors, including Activant Capital, L Catterton, Lightspeed Venture Partners and a16z, is currently offering a 5% return on customer deposits and a 5% cash back. TechCrunch reported last March that its app was created. Bromberg said its yield product has been temporarily suspended by lending stable coins as a result of current market conditions, which has historically been based on its offering.

“It simply came to our notice then. We’re all on the shoulders of giants, and all of that is true, but at some point, it makes no sense to copy so boldly. And if they want to talk to me, I’m happy to talk to them. But I don’t feel like contacting them before making any public statements at this time, “Bromberg told TechCrunch in a telephone interview.

Bromberg’s Twitter thread includes alleged screenshots of customers ’internal records and, he said, shows numerous attempts to join Eco on behalf of the founders of Pebble. Bromberg told TechCrunch that Eco was able to link these submissions to Yes and Phadnis because they were “repeated submissions with overlapping information,” such as using the same phone number and email several times under different names, Bromberg said. including “Andy Bro Burger” and “Poopy Bromberg”.

Bromberg also alleges that while Eco was entering Phadnis as a beta customer, Phadnis asked him in detail about Eco’s costs and technology, saying he was a computer geek who was interested in backend operations. Bromberg added that the interview with Phadnis, a UC Berkeley student, was a screenshot of transcripts, asking if he was offering an Eco internship and saying he was considering applying for a job at Eco. These interviews, Bromberg says, took place in September 2021, two months after the launch of Phadnis Pebble.

According to Bromberg, using the phone number that Eco originally had in Phadnis’ file, Phadnis set up an account with the name “Sam Johnson” and filed fraudulent identity documents with what Eco’s systems detected.

Bromberg says he copied Pebble, which he listed in a tweet, as part of Eco’s business:

“Investors were deceived by copiers who couldn’t create anything on their own. I don’t think investors knew the original ideas and words, ”Bromberg added.

Bromberg told TechCrunch that Eco has no plans to take legal action against Pebble at this time.

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