CEO of fintech app Eco claims Y Combinator-backed Pebble copied its business model, materials – businesstraverse.com

Andy Bromberg, CEO of a16z-backed Eco, claims that Pebble, another fintech startup that emerged from stealth this morning, is “plagiarising” Eco’s materials and business model. Bromberg posted a Twitter thread this afternoon said Pebble engaged in “copy and paste, immaturity, lying and espionage.” In the thread, Bromberg described the background behind his allegations and he also spoke to businesstraverse.com about the allegations.

Bromberg alleges that Pebble co-founders, CEO Aaron Bai and CTO Sahil Phadnis, impersonated Y Combinator investors to access Eco’s waiting list. He also claims that Phadnis asked detailed questions about Eco’s backend under the guise of job search and that multiple aspects of Pebble’s product and marketing language were essentially copied and pasted from Eco.

Bromberg’s Twitter thread encouraged Bai and Phadnis to contact Bromberg directly. When businesstraverse.com reached out to Pebble this afternoon to comment on the matter, Bai said he was in the process of reaching out to Bromberg and, in the meantime, declined to comment further. We will update this post accordingly if and when we get more information.

businesstraverse.com broke the news earlier today that Pebble, who joined Y Combinator’s Winter 2022 cohort, had raised $6.2 million in seed funding from YC itself, in addition to Lightshed Ventures, Eniac Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Montage Ventures, Soma Capital. and angel investors.

On its website, Pebble, founded last year, calls itself “the first app that pays you to save, spend and send your money – all in one balance.” It launched with two core products: a 5% APY interest offer on customer cash deposits and a 5% cash back offer when customers spend at its partner merchants, including Uber, Amazon and Chipotle, said Aaron Bai, CEO of Pebble. The first product is based on the model of withdrawing money from customers, converting it into stablecoins and lending it to institutions, Bai explained at the time.

Bromberg then told businesstraverse.com that both core products were based on two of Eco’s core offerings. eco describes herself on her website as “one simple balance that allows you to spend, send, save and earn money.” Founded in 2018, Eco, which has raised more than $26 million to date from investors including Activant Capital, L Catterton and Lightspeed Venture Partners, in addition to a16z, offers up to 5% returns on customer deposits and 5% cashback through its app since its founding, businesstraverse.com reported last March. Bromberg said that while his revenue product has temporarily halted stablecoin lending due to current market conditions, his past offering has been based on this.

“It has become so blatant at this point that we feel the need to call it out and point out that at the end of the day, everyone gets inspiration from other companies. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and that’s all true, but at some point it’s just unscrupulous to copy so boldly. And if they want to talk, I’m super happy to talk to them. But I don’t really feel like contacting them before making some public statements at this point,” Bromberg told businesstraverse.com in a phone interview.

Bromberg’s Twitter thread contains alleged screenshots of internal customer records, which he says show multiple attempts on behalf of the Pebble co-founders to access Eco. Bromberg told businesstraverse.com that Eco was able to link these submissions to Bai and Phadnis because they were “repeated submissions with overlapping information,” such as the same phone number and email address used multiple times under different names, including Bromberg’s own name and “Andy Bro Burger.” and “Poopy Bromberg.”

Bromberg also claims that while Eco had Phadnis on board as a beta client, Phadnis inquired in detail about Eco’s costs and technology, saying he was a computer science geek interested in backend operations. Bromberg added what he says are screenshots of conversation transcripts with Phadnis, who was a student at UC Berkeley at the time, asking if Eco offered internships and said he was considering applying for a job at Eco. Those talks, Bromberg claims, took place in September 2021 — two months after Phadnis launched Pebble.

Using the phone number Eco originally had on file for Phadnis, Bromberg says, Phadnis started an account under the name “Sam Johnson” and filed what was detected by Eco’s systems as fraudulent identity documentation.

Bromberg, in one tweet, listed the various parts of Eco’s company that he claims Pebble has copied:

“Investors were duped by copycats who can’t create anything themselves. I don’t think investors knew those ideas and words weren’t original,” Bromberg added in the thread.

Bromberg told businesstraverse.com that Eco has no plans at this time to take legal action against Pebble.