War has been declared between the shareholders of The Family. On the one hand, Oussama Ammar, co-founder and figure in the French tech sector, left the incubator last November. On the other hand, the other two co-founders and current leaders, Alice Zagouri and Nicolas Colin. The duo suspect Osama Ammar of embezzlement and have communicated this to shareholders in recent days both verbally and via email, with advice from Capital. This email states: “We suspect the misappropriation of approximately 3 million euros, which were collected in 2019-2020 by the organization. Family (Global Godfathers) SPC. These amounts were intended to be invested in various U.S.-based technology companies between December 2019 and October 2020.”
Contacting The Family’s attorney, Elsa Summery explains: “A significant portion of the €3 million was paid to Osama Ammar or his personal holding companies. Osama Ammar should have reinvested them in startups, but we don’t.” I don’t know if he actually did it, and he refused to provide documents proving that he did it.”
The lawyer explains that she opened several fronts: “The family opened a criminal case on March 23 for ‘breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery.’ At the same time, the Family initiated two procedures to freeze Osama Ammar’s assets. and his personal possessions, Fabuleo OOO as well as Aleteys First LLC. His assets in France, such as shares in the French company Théléma, which is a shareholder in the Ablon estate in Normandy, were subject to the first proceedings before a Paris court, which issued a preventive arrest order on 7 February. For other assets in the Cayman Islands, a second proceeding was initiated and an injunction in that regard was issued on 15 March. Finally, the Family also initiated summary proceedings at the Commercial Court of Paris regarding a one million euro investment to be made in the summer of 2020 in the American startup Stripe, which has since become a unicorn. In this last procedure, the Family asks Ussama Ammar to prove at least that he made this investment, to return the funds and compensate for the damages incurred. .
In addition, the email indicates that PwC has been hired to audit the financial flows between The Family and Ussama Ammar.
Last November, Osama Ammar announced on LinkedIn that he was leaving The Family to address “the world of Web 3.” The post didn’t go into much detail about the reasons for his departure, but simply stated “it’s time to make way for a new generation of advisors.” Today, an email from his former colleagues claims they “asked him to resign” in September, which led to his departure. On his LinkedIn profile, the exile indicates that he is currently working with cryptocurrencies and NFTs, in particular on the Piano King project of pianist Sofiane Pamart.
However, the trial against Osama Ammar promises to be difficult. The Lebanese-born entrepreneur says on his LinkedIn profile that he has moved to Dubai. Two of his personal possessions, Fabuleo OOO as well as Aleteys First LLC, registered in Hong Kong (the first to apply for a trademark Family in 2013).
But the “Family” is not far behind, and she created an interweaving of about twenty buildings in four corners of the world. Some companies are based in France. But the head keeps Family (Holdings) Ltd. registered in the UK, like a holding company holding shares, Family (Partnership) LLP. Others are registered in Delaware (Global Operations Inc family) or the Cayman Islands (Family (Global Godfathers) SPC). According to the letter atwo other managers are also shareholders through structures based in Hong Kong: Nicholas Colin through Dagmar First LLCand Balthasar de Laverne via LLC “Polygoexp”.
Launched in 2012, The Family was originally a start-up incubator on rue Petit Musk in the 4th arrondissement of Paris and was rewarded through small equity investments. It gradually transformed into an investment fund and closed its historic premises in September 2019. Supported startups include Heetch, PayFit, Algolia, Captain train, Doctrine and others.
The family raised a total of 22 million euros in several tranches. In 2014, Index Ventures and several angel investors such as Frédéric Montagnon or Marc Rougerne invested $1 million. Then, in 2018, a €15 million fundraiser was announced from HummingBird Venture, Project A, Ace & Company, e.Ventures and most notably LGT Capital Partners, owned by the Liechtenstein princely family. Among the shareholders of The Family there are also funds (IDinvest, Rocket Internet, Breega Capital), Noel Forgere, Alexandre Mulliez, Adrien Dassault and several high-tech figures such as Gilles Barbier, Eric Setton (Tango), Jean de La Rochebrochard (Kima Ventures) , Frederic Mazzella and Francis Nappez (Blablacar).
In 2018, The Family indicated that it has backed over 500 startups in total (including over 200 still active) and that the total value of the startups in the portfolio is in excess of one billion euros.
Thanks to the success of The Family, its founders were presented as an example and were entrusted with official missions. In 2014, the President of the National Assembly, Claude Bartolone, appointed Nicolas Colin as a member of the CNIL, who is also a financial inspector. In 2015, Emmanuel Macron, who came to visit the incubator, discussed innovation with Oussama Ammar, who congratulated the then Minister of Economy: “With the Macron law, you have made one of the best laws for start-ups.” At the end of 2017, Bersi appointed Alice Zagouri to lead a working group on business finance in preparation for the Covenant law. Finally, Oussama Ammar was invited to teach at Sciences Po Paris, and in 2018 he was also appointed a member Global Tech Panel Created by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs.
However, in recent years the family’s image has been tarnished by a number of issues. First, Osama Ammar was given a four-month suspended prison sentence in 2018 for actions he committed in 2011 as the CEO of startup Be Sport (when asked if Osama Ammar did not want to say if he had filed an appeal). This sports social network filed a complaint against him for “breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery”, accusing him of using almost 95,000 euros “for purposes not related to the social utility of the company”. Finally, Osama Ammar signed a settlement agreement with Be Sport, which withdrew from the procedure. During the trial, Nicolas Colin and Alice Zagouri stated Peace Support Osama Ammar.
Previously, Oussama Ammar co-founded another startup, Hypios, in 2008, which went bankrupt in 2011. Meanwhile, the auditor, in his FY 2010 report, pointed to “many personal expenses incurred by the Founding President, as well as numerous transactions directed at the benevolence of the company in which he had an interest. These amounts are estimated at approximately 200,000 euros.” Again, Osama Ammar made a world deal on this in 2011.
At the same time, the dissatisfied small shareholders of the “Family” created a collective and opened a website where they complain about the lack of transparency of the accounts, which remain laconic, even unpublished. They regret that the combined losses of the two main structures, Family (Paris) SAS as well as Family Holdings Ltd.exceeded 20 million euros at the end of 2018. (Family Holdings Ltd. lost another 4 million euros in 2019).
Finally, the incubator has been hit by the covid crisis and has had to take cost-saving measures in 2020 such as closing offices in Berlin and London and downsizing.
After contacting Ussama Ammar, he responded in a LinkedIn post:
- “This is a legal dispute between partners against the backdrop of personal grievances. It’s a shame to tear each other like that, but it’s a classic. Entrepreneurs know this well. agreement, despite many hours of discussion. I have always responded to those present, but I cannot simply accept something. Today, many lawsuits have been brought against me due to pending investments. They have not yet been discussed before the judge in an adversarial manner. Of course, I want the investors to get their share back, but I don’t want to play the scapegoat. In addition, my lawyers made several settlement proposals, all of which the Family rejected. I doubt investors were informed of these proposals. I have a strong legal team and I am available to the courts to establish collective liability and I am individual. It will take time, and no, I’m not going to pay tribute in the press or speak ill of anyone. I also have requirements for the Family, in particular, financial ones. For example :
- my former co-founders didn’t give me stakes in startups that I myself brought to The Family in 2020 and 2021
- their offer to buy my shares is outrageously low.
- I don’t want to be the scapegoat for all the Family’s problems. Otherwise, I would have founded the club alone.
- In the meantime, I will continue to provide content, close deals, and create value for thousands of entrepreneurs, as I have done at The Family for almost 10 years.”
Update: On Sunday night, March 27th, Alice Zaguri posted text reaffirming the procedures initiated against Usama Ammar. Specifically, she states: “Today we have a portfolio of over 120 startups. The cumulative value of our entire participation is estimated at more than €50 million compared to the €20 million we have raised in total – excluding current value. from our portfolio special purpose vehicles (SPV), already more than 70 million euros, 23 million euros have been invested.”
Assets subject to seizure orders
- The assets subject to the seizure orders represent direct and indirect interests of Ussama Ammar in the following companies:
- Fabuleo Ltd, Hong Kong
- Aleteis The First Ltd, Hong Kong
- Saushape, France
- Healthcube, France
- Side, France
- Northern flank, Cayman Islands
- Doctrine, France
- Dark, UK
- Trusk, France
- Totem, France
- Le Petit Manoir, France
- Domain d’Ablon, France
- Cassius Family LP, Foundation I, USA
- Starchain Capital, USA
- Oolu, USA
- Mud \ WTR, USA
- 0(1) Laboratories
- Inkom (formerly Fred de la Compta), France
- Comet, France
- Stanley Robotics, France
- Sortley, USA
- Docker, USA
- The Pick & Shovels Co, USA
- Hireswith, France
- Four Grover, USA
- Source, USA
- Wisp, USA
- Odis Aviation, USA
- Salary, India
- Unattended, USA
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