Human Longevity blasts Craig Venter, claiming he was fired, then stole trade secrets — poaching staffers for rival operation
After two months of smoke, we’re seeing the 5-alarm fire that’s been burning at Human Longevity.
On Friday, the company fired a bitter salvo at ex-CEO and executive chairman Craig Venter — the legendary genomic researcher who returned to his eponymous institute in May — filing suit claiming that Venter had stolen trade secrets, recruited staffers and planned to set up a rival organization.
How did they know? According to the lawsuit, Venter kept his company Lenovo laptop, and used it in his campaign, which they could track. And now they’re blasting him with the details.
According to Venter, he resigned from Human Longevity. According to the company’s lawsuit, he was fired after Venter had tried to rush through an investment deal that gave him some distinct financial privileges.
Here’s the timeline in the lawsuit:
— On May 25, 2018, HLI disabled Venter’s access to the HLI server and stopped forwarding of any e-mails. However, HLI still had access to the HLI computer retained by Venter through its Crash Recovery Program and Office 365.
— Even after his HLI termination, Venter used the HLI computer, accessed and sent HLI proprietary information and trade secrets. This included HLI internal privileged communications involving Series C and Asia JV Series A Docs. Venter also continued to communicate with an HLI Board member and invited him to his home in Nantucket using the HLI computer.
— Venter also tried to solicit to JCVI the very investor who pulled out of the HLI deal. On June 14, 2018 at 2:01 p.m., Venter wrote in an e-mail: “i would like to find a way to work with you via the Venter institute. My brand is only owned by me and preventative medicine movement has hardly started. Craig”.
— After his HLI termination, Venter arranged a meeting with as many as 9 HLI employees. On information and belief, Venter intended to solicit these employees to JCVI to compete directly with HLI. As a result of Venter’s solicitation, on July 16, 2018, HLI employee Li Weizhong announced he was resigning from HLI to join JCVI.
— HLI is informed, believes and based thereon alleges that Defendant received and is using HLI’s Trade Secrets in an attempt to set up a business . directly compete with HLI. HLI is further informed, believes and based thereon alleges that Defendant is using HLI’s Trade Secrets to: (1) establish its competing business, (2) solicit and negotiation potential financing deals using, among other things, confidential and proprietary potential deal terms, contact information, customer information, (3) solicit HLI’s employees, and (4) solicit HLI’s customers and potential customers, whose interest in receiving services from HLI is non-public and proprietary and whose contact information is not publicly-available.
There’s no immediate word on Venter’s position in all this.
Image: J. Craig Venter Getty