Companies

Voting app Votem shuts down Cleveland office before Series B raise

Quick Take

  • Votem had planned Series B raise
  • The company has fired its employees in Cleveland

Votem, the mobile, decentralized voting platform, was about to close a Series B raise with Medici Ventures, Overstock.com’s venture arm, when an odd report by ClevelandScene claimed the company had shut down.

“One of Cleveland’s largest blockchain start-ups abruptly closed last week due to a lack of funding. Employees at Votem, a company making innovations in online voting platforms, did not receive their most recent paychecks and were told on Friday that everyone was fired, effective immediately,” wrote Sam Allard of ClevelandScene. Votem clarified that the move was not a shutdown but a restructuring and that it was still in the business of modernizing voting via the blockchain.

“They barely tried and didn’t even come close to making a dent. Total incompetence from the leadership team and Pete Martin particular. I hope anybody thinks twice before doing business with him. He is neither competent nor, in my opinion, honest,” a user claiming to be an ex-Votem engineer wrote.

Votem is unique in that it settled in Cleveland, an up-and-coming tech city on the edge of the American Midwest.

We’ve reached out for comment, but the timing – literally on the eve of a large close – suggests that the funding did not come through or that the company is planning to move its headquarters closer to Medici’s headquarters in Salt Lake City.

The company runs CastIron, “an implementation of [Votem’s] own open-source protocol, called Proof of Vote.” The focus here is verifiability and chain of custody that “provides cryptographic proof that electoral integrity was preserved and that counts are correct,” according to the team.

Votem claims to have processed over 13 million blockchain votes and administer 1,000 elections successfully. They were chosen to rebuild Los Angeles County’s election infrastructure for 2020 as part of the Voting Solutions for All People initiative. They also tally votes for “the Emmys, Oscars, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” the latter being in the company’s home town of Cleveland.

At this point the company is still focused on their ability to offer mobile voting but the blockchain aspect of the system is slowly coming to the fore.

The company, run by former IBM and SAL exec Pete Martin, ran a token sale in early 2018 for the VAST security token.

“To me, Votem is simply trying to make it easy to vote and impossible to cheat while affording a level of verifiability, accessibility, security and transparency that is unprecedented to both voters and election administrators,” said Martin.

UPDATE – “Last week the company ran into short-term liquidity issues resulting in restructuring and recapitalization of the company, which included layoffs. The company is still operating with a skeleton crew and although our future is in question, we are working tirelessly on multiple fronts to positively turn around the situation. To be clear, we have employees and are actively supporting our current, active customers,” said CEO Pete Martin.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash