My Observations of the mBloom Town Hall

Tech Hawaii

My Approach:  When I first read about the mBloom’s initial investments and how others were speculating a conflict of interest, I wanted to remain optimistic.  I feel we as humans are too often pessimistic about something we don't immediately understand.  With that in mind, these are my observations from tonight's town hall meeting.

There were some demands of transparency without actual expectations being articulated. #bandwagon.  The ones that did articulate them were demanding justification of the two investments in question to the point where they were asking for publishing of pitch decks, figures illustrating traction etc.  Is mBloom obligated in some way to publish these things because public money was used? 

Conflict of interest was another key focus of the meeting.  Karl explained the LPs all knew the situation in advance and measures had to be taken to avoid any conflicts of interest.   Could the PR company handling the mBloom press releases be at fault for not clearly articulating this fact?

I observed people mentioning Arben doesn't do anything for the community.  The common denominator in those individuals' opinion was the boundaries of the tech community being isolated to Honolulu when its actually quite the opposite.  Arben and Nick are tightly integrated with the Valley tech world and started MaiTai Tech Night during the MaiTai Maui event held every year.  Arben also personally funded the first ever Startup Weekend Maui.  Sure, we all feel a strange gap between the outer islands and Oahu but hopefully we can "set each other up for success" (@rob) in the future. 

Personal judgement by the community based on the past failures of the mBloom founders seemed to be popular among a few individuals.  If I am not mistaking, it was one of those individuals that asked how mBloom can regain the trust of the community.  I mentioned in one of my last tweets during the meeting "How to trust again? How about the community stops using past failures as a means for subjective judgement of integrity?"  Personal attacks on an individual's integrity was not an effective use of the community’s time with mBloom. #adhominem

The misuse of public funds was of significant interest in those concerned.  The majority of the community were in consensus that the public funds HSDC manages should not have been involved with this type of investment.  Karl Fooks and his team have done a lot of great things for this community and none of us should forget that.  But Karl is ultimately responsible for the distribution of these public funds and if the community is upset, they should take it up with HSDC.

What I have deduced from the discussions is that this whole community rant may have been based on speculations and opinions of a few.   I think this incident is going to linger for some time and it may now be tougher for these types of funds to form in the future.  Hopefully I am wrong and this is a tiny speed bump. 

What do you think is the solution?

Open Questions

Some Closing Tweets