The Family co-founder and CEO Alice Zagury has announced in a blog post that the French startup accelerator is suing Oussama Ammar for multiple claims — breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery.
More specifically, Capital first reported that The Family suspects Ammar of diverting €3 million that were supposed to be invested in several startups through syndicates. TechCrunch has separately seen an email that confirms ongoing charges against Oussama Ammar. It that was sent to people who transferred money in order to become shareholders in Stripe through a special purpose vehicle. The SPV was supposed to acquire Stripe shares through a secondary offering.
“Oussama transfers funds to his personal holding companies and tells us after the fact, saying that it’s the only way to take advantage of investment opportunities in question,” Zagury wrote in her blog post.
According to her, other people working for The Family have asked several times to see documents that proved that investments went through. In November 2021, Ammar announced on LinkedIn that he was moving on and leaving The Family.
“On Friday, my resignation was published on the Companies House website. From now on I am no longer a director of The Family and I will gradually leave this ecosystem,” Ammar wrote on LinkedIn at the time.
“The ecosystem has changed a lot and raising money is not as difficult as it used to be. It has become normal to raise funds long before you have a product/market fit, and this poses challenges to entrepreneurs that are of a very different nature than those the ecosystem has faced in the past years,“ he added back in November 2021.
Zagury now says that The Family asked him to leave the company in September 2021. “We bring in a mediator then several law firms as well as an independent auditing firm (PwC),” Zagury wrote.
According to our information, The Family is working with several law firms across several jurisdictions. Capital talked with one of the company’s lawyer Elsa Sammari. She said that there are multiple ongoing cases — they are examined by criminal and commercial courts. “The Family has initiated two proceedings to freeze Oussama Ammar’s assets and the assets of his personal holding companies,” Sammari told Capital.
It’s not going to be a straightforward case as Ammar’s holding companies are spread all over the world, including in the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong. Ammar also recently edited his LinkedIn profile saying that he is based in Dubai.
Yesterday, Ammar has reacted to Capital’s report in another LinkedIn post. “This is a legal proceeding between partners with some lingering resentment. Splitting up like this is a shame but it’s frequent. Entrepreneurs know this well. Since 2020, we have been trying to find an amicable solution. But we haven’t reached an agreement despite long hours of negotiation,” Ammar wrote.
In 2018, Ammar was given a four-month suspended sentence for a separate case. Back in 2011, Ammar used to work for a company called Be Sport. The company filed a lawsuit for breach of trust, forgery and use of forgery. At the time, Be Sport claimed that Ammar had been using some of the company’s funds for non-corporate expenses.
The Family was originally founded in 2012 with three co-founders — Alice Zagury, Oussama Ammar and Nicolas Colin. They teamed up to build a different kind of startup accelerators without any batch or demo day. Instead, startups could apply and join the community of startups backed by The Family.
In exchange for a stake, they could get some advice from The Family’s team and network with other people in the community. The Family has also helped some of the startups in its community when it comes to fundraising.
Zagury listed some of The Family’s portfolio companies in her blog post. They include Heetch, Algolia, Payfit, Spacefill, Trusk, Northflank, Jow, Joone, Jinka, Doctrine, Merci Handy, So Shape, Side, Vybe, Dark, Unai, WeMaintain, Flat, Fempo, Shipix, MyDiabby, Bellman, Fairmint, Artsper, Cabaïa, Plume, Alma and Kymono.
A few years ago, The Family was a cornerstone of the French tech ecosystem. The Family’s office building was as a physical representation for a new wave of French startups with global ambitions.
Over time, The Family diversified its activities with an education business and a digital transformation business. In total, The Family has raised €22 million ($24 million at today’s exchange rate).