Controversial tech personality Pax Dickinson revealed Tuesday that he is parting ways with WeSearchr, Chuck C. Johnson’s crowdfunding website. In dramatic fashion on Twitter, Dickinson spilled a lot of dirt on the alt-right blogger and former business partner, accusing him of ripping off employees and absconding with the site’s earnings.
No stranger to controversy, the former CTO of Business Insider has long courted dissension on Twitter. In the age of “call out culture” and public shaming, Dickinson was fired after he publicly lashed out at feminism. Other comments made in jest enabled detractors to brand him a sexist and racist.
After departing Business Insider, Dickinson founded a new tech start-up called Glimpse, which he eventually left after failing to amass venture capital to fund it. At the height of the GamerGate fiasco in 2015, Dickinson also attempted to seize on the gamers’ discontent with corrupt game journalists by crowdfunding an IndieGoGo startup to “pursue adversarial journalism against the media industry.” It failed to take off, receiving less than a quarter of its fixed goal of $25,000.
In early 2016, Dickinson partnered up with Chuck C. Johnson, the infamous blogger who was permanently banned from Twitter after a spat with Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson. Sometimes referred to as the “most hated man on the Internet,” Johnson is rumored to have close ties with Steve Bannon. Johnson was reported to have an active role in vetting candidates for positions at the White House.
Over the years, Johnson has been involved in the creation of multiple allegations against politicians and media personalities, several of which were proven false. He incorrectly identified the false rape accuser in the Rolling Stone UVA campus hoax.
Together with Johnson, Dickinson launched WeSearchr, a website that would enable crowdfunding for alt-right political causes. Johnson promised that the site would pay to investigate embarrassing leads on media personalities like former Gawker CEO Nick Denton. The site currently offers bounties to anyone who can identify the man who punched alt-right founder Richard Spencer, or find the killers of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
WeSearchr is also hosting a legal defense fund for the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website currently embroiled in a legal battle with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In an earlier story, Heat Street’s Will Hicks found that the site was paying an oddly large number of bounties out to Johnson himself.
“In early 2016, we hired a front-end developer I know to work on WeSearchr for us. We didn’t have much money, so he agreed to a below-market rate. We promised him an increase when we raised investment in the business,” he wrote in now-archived tweets. His account has since been suspended by Twitter.
“We were supposed to raise money in the next couple of months, but it ended up taking over a year to get a check,” using the hashtag #StartupLyfe to indicate the difficulties of starting a new business.
“When we got our (7 figure) check I brought up the promise we had made & said I wanted to give our loyal front end dev a $1K/mo increase,” he added. “Chuck fought me and saw no reason to give an increase since it wasn’t in contract & my guy hadn’t demanded it or threatened to quit.”
“I was at the time recruiting other loyal people to come to the company who had to quit jobs to do so. My position was untenable,” he explained. “I couldn’t ask good people to quit jobs and come work for me knowing Chuck’s promises were worthless. I could no longer function as CTO.”
“After I resigned, Chuck fired the developer in question. Not via phone, or email, or text… he just stopped paying them,” wrote Dickinson. “Literally. He did the exact thing that Office Space mocked. He avoided a firing confrontation out of cowardice.”
Dickinson posted a clip of the scene in question, in which the management team explains how they fired Milton without telling him about it after fixing a glitch in payroll.
“We sold 6% of the company for $1.5M. Chuck has the money. I don’t know why he let the hosting lapse, he was warned repeatedly,” continued Dickinson. “I own 30% of the company, but Chuck’s been bragging to people that he’s going to dilute me to nothing. C’est la vie.”
“Personally, I’d rather be a poor guy with personal honor than a rich guy without it, but tastes seem to vary,” concluded Dickinson.
Asked why he couldn’t just sell his stock in WeSearchr, Dickinson wrote that he was contractually prevented from doing so until September 2018. He described WeSearchr as a company that “can’t be organized enough to keep the lights on.”
Johnson released a statement on Dickinson’s resignation from WeSearchr in response to the public disclosure, calling it a “sudden abandonment.”
“After his resignation, Mr. Dickinson has continued to maintain possession and control over some of the company’s properties, passwords, and credentials,” wrote Johnson, a claim Dickinson denies.
“Since Mr. Dickinson’s abrupt resignation, the company has transitioned to more sustainable technology, that is more efficient and better suited to the company’s business plan,” added Johnson.
Dickinson in turn claims that the statement is “riddled with misleading statements and outright lies.” He says Johnson’s new project is not in production, as claimed, because he “doesn’t have a tech team and still has no replacement for me after 4 weeks.”
“My ‘sudden abandonment’ of the company happened 4 weeks ago and Chuck still hasn’t replaced me or transferred maintenance duties to anyone,” he wrote.
Pax Dickinson may be closing the book on WeSearchr and Chuck C. Johnson, but where he’ll go from here is anyone’s guess.
Pax Dickinson did not respond to Heat Street inquiries at the time of this publishing.