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A timeline of events that led to ex-Twitter India chief's exit from Invact Metaversity

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A timeline of events that led to ex-Twitter India chief's exit from Invact Metaversity


Former Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari has bowed out his six-month-old startup Invact Metaversity after "irreconciable differences" with the co-founder Tanay Pratap and an angel investor's allegations of "holding the company to hostage".

A timeline of events that led to ex-Twitter India chief's exit from Invact Metaversity
Former Twitter India head Manish Maheshwari has bowed out his six-month-old startup Invact Metaversity after "irreconciable differences" with the co-founder Tanay Pratap and an angel investor's allegations of "holding the company to hostage".
The first public admission of 'the strife within' came when Maheshwari put out a thread of tweets explaining the decision to cancel the first cohort for the metaMBA program, which sought to use metaverse as a medium to offer a four-month MBA course. "Things didn't turn out as hoped," he said.
In the following days, it became clear that "technological and ecosystem challenges", the reason Maheshwari gave in his tweets for the startup's failure, was not the only one. The company's founders were having "differences on the vision" of the startup: Was it a metaverse startup or an edtech startup?
"Manish was bullying Tanay into silence," claimed Gergely Orosz wrote in a letter to his fellow angel investors. "Manish is keeping the company hostage."
Now, with Manish's exit, the virtual reality-edtech venture has experiened one of the harsh realities of the startup world — the co-founders conflict. Formerly at Microsoft, Pratap will now takeover as the CEO of Invact Metaversity.
Here's a timeline of how the Invact Metaversity Saga unfolded: 
Feb 21: Founded in late last year, the startup was less than three-months old when it raised its first round of funding from more than 70 global corporate leaders and unicorn founders.
Future Group's Kishore Biyani, ex-Infosys director TV Mohandas Pai, Zerodha's Zerodha and Snapdeal's Kunal Bahl were the angel investors with several leaders from global companies such as Microsoft, Meta, Google, Twitter, Uber, Amazon, Softbank, among others.
What followed was the $5 million institutional funding round led by led by Arkam Ventures with participation from Antler India, Picus Capital, M Venture Partners, BECO Capital (Dubai) and 2amVC. Together, they valued the startup at $33 million. At the time, Maheshwari said, "(Invact will) expand into U.S. and Europe."
April 18: Co-founder Tanay Pratap, who was operating as the Chief Technology Officer, while Maheshwari was the CEO, started informing investors that the two co-founders were having "irreconcievable differences" over Invact's long-term vision as well as in day-to-day operations. Was Invact an edtech startup or a metaverse startup — that was the crux of the conflict.
On April 26, an all-party meeting was arranged in Bangalore, which Maheshwari refused to attend, as per Pratap's letter. The following day, the all-party meeting eventually took place with Maheshwari on a zoom call.
After back-and-forth over the next few days, a third meeting was scheduled for April 30. In this meeting, an important decision was taken.
Here's a copy of the letter sent by co-founder Tanay Pratap to investors.
May 2: Invact Metaversity cancelled its first cohort of about 60 students for its metaverse-MBA program. With interest, fee refunds were transferred to students, as claimed by Pratap in his email.
On May 4, the two co-founders started looking for potential buyers for Invact at cash value while exploring placement or acqui-hire of employees. After a two-week search, finding no buyer who was willing to meet the terms of the co-founders and investors, the sale process was abandoned on May 18.
May 23: In a series of tweets, Manish Maheshwari announced that the metaMBA program is being cancelled for the first cohort.
More alarmingly, he said, "We are now standing at crossroads exploring possibilities such as (a) cutting the burn rate and pivoting to another idea, (b) letting one of the founders take full charge, or (c) returning the unspent capital to investors."
While blaming the startup's failure to induct its first batch on "technological and ecosystem challenges", which didn't allow it to deliver the experience enisaged, Maheshwari admitted that "differences also emerged between us (co-founders) on the vision (are we an education company or a metaverse company) and approach to achieving that vision."
He further said, "The return of unspent capital is also being considered because it sets an example of how to execute fast, learn fast, and not commit oneself to building an undifferentiated product just because one has capital. We plan to take a final decision shortly."
May 25: Angel investor Gergely Orosz replied to Maheshwari's twitter thread saying, "“I am an investor in @invactHQ. Contrary to what this thread says, the company is not failing. However, its CEO is.”
He went on to say, "The company has a product, has a CTO, and is executing. It also has a CEO holding the company hostage. As an investor, I see @invactHQ succeeding, but without you.”
On May 26, Orosz took to twitter once again. This time he claimed that he had deleted those tweets "after coming to an agreement with Maheshwari on how he will step down from the company and what terms he asks for."
But, apparently, Maheshwari didn't keep his word. "This is not an "angel gone rogue". It is one of many investors speaking out who are tired of Manish Maheshwari repeatedly misleading us," said Orosz.
Further, Orosz wrote an email to fellow angel investors in which he said, "“Manish has been bullying Tanay
He also said, "Manish lied to his team. He polled the team at Invact what the best next steps for the company should be on 29th April. The team suggested he leave, Tanay take over. Manish agreed he will do this. However, later walked back on his agreement. He told the team his principles don't allow him to step down."
He went a step further, "No current employees trust Manish to stay."
"Manish is keeping the company hostage," said Orosz. "In a strange way, everyone's hands are tied until he steps down."
May 27: Manish Maheshwari stepped down from his position as the co-founder and CEO of Invact Metaversity.
The decision to part ways was not an easy one, but ultimately, Manish Maheshwari and Tanay Pratap had diverging visions for the company's long-term prospects. Invact will continue and under leadership of Tanay will pursue its vision to make quality education accessible via Metaversity," said a tweet from the startup's official handle.
Maheshwari tweeted, "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."
In response, co-founder Tanay Pratap tweeted, "Changes are often heartbreaking but sometimes necessary. We started together, built together, and celebrated together."
He further said, "Invact will continue to build on its vision of accessible quality education for all. Wishing Manish all the best for the future. Goodbyes are always hard."
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