Don’t you just hate it when your business idea falls apart? You put all this time and money into a new idea, only for it to vanish without ever leaving a mark — until, that is, your top employees take that concept and make a splash with another, competing brand. All that hard work ends up being for naught. I can see why you’d be furious.
I’m talking, of course, about Clayton Jacobson II leaving Sea-Doo for Kawasaki and the Jet Ski. But a new lawsuit alleges that something very similar happened between Karma Automotive, DeLorean Motors Reimagined, and four top employees that jumped from one to the other.
Karma is suing DeLorean for IP theft, claiming that the latter company only exists thanks to a deal between DMC and Karma that never panned out. Karma named DeLorean CEO Joost de Vries, COO Alan Yuan, CMO Troy Beetz, and VP of Brand and Creative Neilo Harris as defendants, alleging that the four began their own company while still employed at Karma — and that their little independent venture grew into DeLorean Motors Reimagined.
Karma offered up emails between the four as evidence, according to the San Antonio Express-News. The company claims that Reimagined began with investor presentations that relied on confidential Karma data, including “financial and technical information.” The company also alleges that Beetz intercepted marketing data intended for Karma, and redirected it to the novel Reimagined crew.
For its part, the new DeLorean entity denies everything. It acknowledges the existence of the failed Karma-DMC deal, but states that it was a doomed partnership intended to electrify a small number of original DMC-12s — and that the new Alpha5 concept is wholly unrelated to Karma’s efforts. From the San Antonio Express-News:
“This car has a very specific, unique DeLorean lineage that has no relation to Karma Automotive from a design, engineering, supply chain or manufacturing perspective,” De Vries said. “We remain committed to the future of our company.”
News of this lawsuit couldn’t come at a worse time for DeLorean, with its Pebble Beach reveal only days away. Just this morning, the company began offering membership to its metaverse “Alphas Club,” offering mailing list subscribers a chance to “start your path to ownership.” Whether the suit will affect the nascent company’s efforts, or crumble into nothing with a simple motion to dismiss, remains to be seen.