At unicorn startup Carta, a culture of absolute fealty to an erratic and vindictive CEO, employees say (Business Insider)
In August 2020, Lisa Whittaker relaunched the internal whistleblower-complaint system at Carta, a cap table management startup. Whittaker had recently been poached from the investment bank UBS to clean up what she calls Carta’s “toxic, boys club” culture. Within three months the portal, dubbed Integrity Counts, received more than 58 complaints.
There was the case of a sales representative who was accused of exposing his genitals to fellow employees at a company retreat in what one employee called a “helicopter penis” motion. The same sales representative was also accused of groping a female employee, according to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed by the former chief technical officer Jerry Talton. (The EEOC declined to investigate the allegations; lawyers representing Talton declined to comment.)
Then there was David Kim, known as DK, Carta’s head of business and the CEO’s longtime right-hand man. Andrea Lamari, a former head of liquidity solutions at Carta, said he was known to take subordinates on outings to Gold Club, a San Francisco strip club. Kim was also accused of making one female employee cry; another time, over a team dinner in Brazil, he made comments about sucking on women’s breasts, according to Talton’s complaint and an employee present for the exchange. Of the 58 complaints made through the Integrity Counts system while Whittaker was employed at Carta, she said at least 25 of them were against Kim.
Both men remained valued employees at Carta, with the sales representative even getting promoted just weeks after the alleged “helicopter penis” incident, according to former employees. When reached for comment, the sales representative denied that the incident took place.