Below is the letter I sent to investors notifying them of GameFi's failure:
Writing to let you know that GameFi failed. I will begin the process of formally dissolving the company this week.
The surface-level reason for this is running out of funding and not being in a sufficiently strong enough position to raise more funding alongside the fact that I am no longer able to productively work on things on my own.
More substantively, I can boil this failure down to my propensity for dark triad traits: narcissism, machiavellianism, and psychopathy.
Narcissism is my biggest weakness, while I was aware of that going into this I believed that I needed it in some degree of moderation and that there was a time and place for it. In reality, you can’t build a sustainable company with high doses of narcissism and the best leaders over the long term are service-oriented. Listening to my co-founder Jordan Topoleski would have prevented a lot of fires but a pre-requisite to that is an ego that’s not totally out of control which I simply didn't have.
Machiavellianism revolves around the idea that the “end justifies the means” and I heavily bought into this rationalizing that a positive company outcome retroactively justifies any actions used to get there regardless of their morality. I not only learned that this is not true but that it also decreases the likelihood of success and makes failure that much more damaging. The core lesson here is that consistent ethical input should be the primary focus and that the output is secondary. I deeply regret compromising on my values on multiple occasions and justifying that by telling myself it was in pursuit of a vision. I would have much rather had my vision change and my values have held. The structural integrity of a company depends on the integrity of its leadership and I consistently eroded trust.
Psychopathy, this one surprised me as I did not initially believe I had this trait but it manifested itself a few times throughout the lifetime of the company and was the core driver behind my most critical and irrecoverable mistakes. The biggest mistake being the mistreatment of my co-founder Walden Yan and a generally exploitative orientation towards him that was driven by personal greed and a selfish desire to get more than I put in. He simply did not deserve this but even with ethical considerations aside his level of talent and work ethic should have been rewarded fairly nonetheless if a blind pursuit of profit truly was the goal.
Of course, there were many other tactical mistakes made along the way that contributed to the failure from a practical standpoint but looking back I view those things as the minutia and there's no way each small error could have been foreseen without prior experience. The reason I failed was because of my character and I'm glad I didn't have more experience as that would have only increased the total damage caused.
I feel a significant amount of shame and responsibility about how things played out and so would like to get your thoughts on these two potential partial remedies:
Personally refunding your initial investment within the next two years (with interest)
Rolling over the equivalent value of your investment into what I’m working on next
I'm open to other suggestions in addition to the above but ask that you keep this part of the conversation private as I'm dealing with each investor differently based on what feels right and is financially feasible while trying to be reasonably fair.
Really grateful for your support and am forever indebted to you, thank you once again for the opportunity!
I will do better next time.