Ivan Ravlich attended Auckland University before a stint at Stanford.
Ivan Ravlich became the principal of Kerikeri High School becoming a nationally recognized technology entrepreneur in the U.S. for ten years. But the New Zealand-appointed scientist, in recent years named in Forbes magazine 30 on its 30 list, now faces accusations that he and his co-founder defrauded investors. George Block reports.
A Northland high school graduate was at the center of a lawsuit in California alleging he and his co-founders defrauded millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency from investors in embattled start-ups.
Court documents obtained by the Herald show that investors alleged Ivan Ravlich and two other Hypernet Labs founders lied to investors when they failed to develop a viable product or service.
Investors, who claim to have lost more than NZ $ 1 million in cryptocurrencies at current value, said the founders used a Cook Islands shell company that claimed it was more difficult for investors to try to recoup the losses.
He has filed a lawsuit in a California court to try and recover the cryptocurrency that was initially dipped, the document said.
The Herald could reveal two other founders named in the setting have now left Hypernet, along with a senior manager.
Ravlich did not respond to requests for comment and the other founders could not be reached.
Ravlich, whose father is a New Zealander and whose family still lives in Auckland, enjoyed a promotion from Kerikeri High School when he became head and dux in 2007.
The following year he entered the University of Auckland to study Chemical Engineering and Materials Science on a scholarship.
The young technologist then moved to the famous Stanford University in California, where he completed his master’s degree.
While studying for his doctorate, he founded and became the first chief executive of Hypernet Labs in 2017 with fellow Stanford graduates Todd Chapman and Daniel Maren.
In a glowing alumni profile on the University of Auckland website, Ravlich said he founded Hypernet with the aim of creating a “connected network startup among all computing resources in the world”.
Early investors, who spoke on anonymous terms, said the startup was billed as offering a variety of cloud computing services where users would pay through Hypernet’s own cryptocurrency tokens.
Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, that do not depend on central authorities such as governments or banks. These values rose during a pandemic, but only recently.
Hypernet’s first product was an application called Galileo, which was intended for researchers performing simulations.
Early investors claimed when Hypernet charged people for Galileo, they accepted payments via credit cards, not their own crypto tokens, which investors believe appear to have never been used as intended.
In 2020, Ravlich was named one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” in the science category.
A profile on the Forbes website says Galileo has been used by government agencies and space propulsion companies.
It claims Hypernet recently raised $ 10 million in new capital.
But early investors claimed communication from the company had been lacking over the past two years.
About nine months ago, Hypernet “pivoted hard” into non-fungible tokens (NFTs), investors claimed.
NFT is a controversial type of digital financial asset that often takes on an art form that has dubious aesthetic value.
They traded online, often using cryptocurrency, which they shared the same basic code.
The market for NFT exploded in value last year, but the bubble is recent. In May of this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that the market was collapsing.
University of Canberra researcher John Hawkins, write in Conversationsaid the NFT market showed similarities to the ponzi scheme and the bubble was inflated by celebrity endorsements and “crypto mania”.
Early investors claimed none of their peers supported the pivot to NFT.
However, they believe it’s a “stupid knee reaction to the flavor of the day”, and it’s probably too late a year to make anything out of the craze, he said.
He is blunt in evaluating the motivation behind the axis for NFTs.
“I believe this is a last resort to find a non -existent market for non -existent products,” he said.
On March 22 this year, an attorney for major Hypernet investors, Romein Rostami, filed a lawsuit naming Hypernet Labs, Ravlich, Chapman, and Maren as defendants. The investor who filed the lawsuit was not the initial investor who spoke to the Herald.
Maren’s LinkedIn profile has been removed from the Hypernet designation, but a profile on the high school website since 2019 describes her as the founder.
LinkedIn Chapman said he left the company in April this year.
A document filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Rostami’s attorney said they are seeking the return of 728 Ethereum cryptocurrency tokens “which were allegedly procured from plaintiffs through fraudulent methods and the sale of unlisted securities.”
At the time, his crypto investment was worth US $ 339,248 but would be worth US $ 863,408 at the time of writing.
Court documents say the company initially claimed it was “ready to change the world by making high -performance parallel computing into consumer goods”.
“By doing so, Hypernet claims, with the platform, individuals and companies can‘ rent [their] Otherwise, waste computing power for someone else who wants to use it – and get paid, ”the document said.
In the summer of 2018, the founders are offering and selling to the public future rights to cryptocurrency tokens, for use on the Hypernet platform, called “Hyper Tokens”.
“Through these efforts, the defendants raised approximately $ 20 million in initial coin offerings (‘ICO’).”
Rostami, a U.S. citizen living in Puerto Rico, is one such investor.
He said that in the lawsuit he never created a functional platform as described or Hyper Token.
“However, the defendant deceived investors through industry white papers, paid to play promotional ads, and other fraudulent marketing gimmicks to induce investment and utilized the venture as a vehicle to perpetuate the fraud for further financial gain.”
He says the marketing around Hypernet tokens is heavily laden with misleading statements.
The lawsuit also alleges the founders directed Hypernet employees or agents to force investors to enter into contracts with business entities allegedly formed in the Cook Islands.
As a result, he claimed that he forced investors to agree to seek dispute resolution in the Cook Islands under Cook Islands law, even though the company is based in California.
But while Hypernet was allegedly formed under Cook Islands law, there is no current record of the company with the company registration of the Cook Islands Ministry of Justice.
“In other words, Ravlich, Maren, and Chapman created fake companies overseas to prevent investors from recovering losses and used fake agreements to transfer ICO investor funds to HLI. [Hypernet Labs, Inc.]a U.S. -based entity (having no contractual rights with investors), to raise large sums of money with little or no development effort, ”the lawsuit said.
One of Rostami’s lawyers told the Herald from his New York office that the lawsuit remains active and that his client intends to pursue the action.
Ravlich did not respond to requests for comment through various social media profiles or email addresses.
The other founders could not be contacted.
The only answer is from someone listed online as Hypernet’s head of marketing and communications.
“I resigned from Hypernet last Friday – you should immediately contact Ivan,” he said.
In a profile of the University of Auckland, Ravlich said that starting Hypernet was the first step to spreading computing power around the world.
“Starting Hypernet is one small step to further advance all sectors of science and technology with a mission to be ethical and ubiquitous computing.”
Also a multi-instrumentalist musician who enjoys ballroom dancing, Ravlich told the University at Stanford where he learned the benefits of risk-taking.
“My dance teacher at Stanford taught me a lot about experimentation, running with the flow and taking risks.”