Andrew Bachman is the 30-something son of two suburban Boston medical doctors.
The media packaged him as the Massachusetts version of California's tech wizards. His unique brand of tech entrepreneurship, as the Boston Globe crowed, was the physically fit one.
In the Babson College dorm he and buddies had launched Tatto. That was an internet marketing company.
Eventually, they sold that for $60 million and became rich. That made him more successful than his physician parents.
The White House had invited him for a visit.
He taught a course at Babson on entrepreneurship and created a scholarship.
Wiley was going to publish his memoir, which I assisted him in researching and writing. We hunkered down together in his Boston penthouse putting it together. In the garage below were parked his expensive cars. Initially, I toyed with the title of the book that the brand of one of the cars served as his business card.
He had other enterprises going.
That was then.
Four years ago, the media outlet Techli interviewed Bachman about a possible comeback. And, that is really the central issue of this tech saga of what can go very very wrong. Can a Bachman type return to success?
Now, as the U.S. Attorney's Office Southern District of New York reports, Bachman is among those who have taken a guilty plea.
Their scam had been orchestrated through Tatto, along with Mobile Messenger. One of those in the loop - Darcy Wedd - received a 10-year sentence on April 3, 2018. Back in 2017, he had been convicted in a two-week jury trial.
Bachman awaits sentencing. Earlier, he had depleted his assets by settling with the FTC for what was at the time still an alleged fraud. Those cars went in the settlement.
After the Wedd sentencing, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman provided a simplified description of the technically complex fraud. Essentially, he said, Tatto constituted
" .... a large-scale auto-subscribing scheme that forced mobile phone users to pay charges for unsolicited and unwanted text messaging services ... [The defendants'] conduct ultimately netted over $150 million in illegal profits."
So, how do tech hustlers cross that ethical and legal line into criminals? Initially Tatto had been legit. Bachman had and probably still has a good head for business.
In the Techli interview Bachman noted he was talking with a psychotherapist. If he serves time in prison there will be support personnel he can also sort things out with.
Perhaps already he has gained insight about what led to his catastrophic fall from grace. There's a documentary he can develop on that meme. That could be his Next: To help other techies avoid his ordeal.
On April 11th, when Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress, there could be a paradigm shift in tech. Those who are both ambitious and smart about how the world really works might get it that they have to play by the rules.
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