CEO Resigns From Booker’s Start-Up Amid Questions

The chief executive of the tech start-up co-founded by Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker has reportedly resigned amid lingering questions about the politician’s role in the firm.

An unnamed source told the website TechCrunch in an article published late Friday that Nathan Richardson was stepping down as CEO of Waywire, a small website which bills itself as a destination to “discover the best video from across the web via the sources you choose and trust.” Richardson, Booker and Sarah Ross helped found the company, which drew early high-profile investments from the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Google’s Eric Schmidt.

Michele Clarke, a spokeswoman for Waywire, declined in an email to TPM to comment on TechCrunch’s report.

With Booker poised to become New Jersey’s next U.S. senator, the start-up has found itself in the spotlight as of late. A recent front-page story in The New York Times detailed Waywire’s struggles, touching on the company’s anemic web traffic and a round of layoffs. There were only a little more than 2,000 visitors to the website in June, and the company recently axed eight employees and shuttered its Manhattan office.

The Times also reported that Booker ended up claiming a bigger share of the company than either Richardson or Ross, even though his two co-founders oversaw the company’s operations. According to a financial disclosure in July, Booker’s stake in Waywire was valued between $1 million and $5 million, making it the mayor’s largest asset.

Other questions about Booker’s recent role in the company have remained unanswered. Clarke told TPM earlier this week that Waywire was still soliciting investors even as Booker, fresh off an easy victory in the Democratic primary on Tuesday, continues his march toward Capitol Hill. However, both Booker’s campaign and Clarke refused to say whether the mayor himself has been involved in meetings soliciting funds for the start-up since his most recent campaign began.

Clarke also declined to name the investors, if any, who have been involved in the company’s latest fundraising round. (The Times article detailed how Booker used his network of powerful connections to help the company raise $1.75 million in a previous round of funding.)

Meanwhile, TechCrunch’s report also said the company is “poised to announce a new round of seed funding over the coming days or weeks.” The report indicated that Richardson is expected to join AOL. Booker has indicated that he will step down from Waywire if he is elected to the Senate.

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