NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The hottest tech stock on the NYSE has sparked a legal battle between two early Palantir investors over tens of millions of dollars of profits. On behalf of veteran Los Angeles investor Ken Rickel, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP has sued his stepson Alex Davis, CEO of Disruptive Technology Advisors (“DTA”) based in Los Angeles, alleging that the grandson of legendary tycoon Marvin Davis is attempting to cheat him out of at least $50 million in profits from Palantir. The stock of the Denver-based big analytics company has soared from its initial public listing price of $10 per share in late September. Palantir closed on Monday at $29—a 190% increase in slightly over two months of public trading.
As his Cross-Complaint alleges, in 2013, Rickel founded DTA and its fund, Disruptive Technology Solutions, LLC, as the vehicle for investing in Palantir at a time when the start-up needed early stage funding. Rickel identified Palantir, and his fund invested $8.5 million at this critical time for Palantir. Various Disruptive-related funds eventually purchased 50 million shares at an average price of $5 per share. Today these funds have over $1 billion under management.
Rickel gave Davis—an unemployed neophyte with no investment experience—a 50% share of the business for free. As the Cross-Complaint alleges, after Rickel caught Davis cheating him, they parted company in 2014. In a written settlement agreement, Davis bought out Rickel in exchange for agreeing to pay him specified percentages of Davis’s profits from Palantir and other stocks.
With a colossal payday on Palantir on the horizon, Davis has refused to honor his agreement. This repudiation has forced Rickel to sue Davis for a fraudulent scheme to cheat him out of his agreed-upon share of over $160 million of profits from Palantir alone. (The Cross-Complaint, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, may be accessed at https://www.greenbergglusker.com/staging/5fcec09bd8a19-7359/.)
The Cross-Complaint alleges:
“Following the settlement, and without informing Rickel or paying him any profits, Davis fraudulently created dozens of new companies named as nominal Cross-Defendants here—all using the name Disruptive Technology Solutions or DTA—as the vehicles for investing hundreds of millions of dollars of new investor money, much of which was invested in more Palantir stock as well as other attractive companies like 23andMe. Davis’s scheming was designed to cheat Rickel out of his rightful share of monies owed to him by Davis. Once again, Davis, apparently unable to curb his greed, was cheating his stepfather and business partner.”
The lawsuit details that Davis was flat broke, a college dropout, a failed businessman, and unemployable in the financial sector when Rickel brought him into his business, trained him, and introduced him to high net worth and institutional investors. In response to Davis’s boasts about founding and building the DTA business, the Cross-Complaint alleges:
“Particularly egregious are Davis’s fabrications about the launch of the DTA business and his instrumental role in its success. The truth is that Rickel was a very successful businessman when, out of kindness, he invited Davis to join Rickel’s new business. At the time, Davis did not know a PPM from an MP3.”
“This dispute arises out of Davis not respecting the man who lovingly raised him as his own son, showered him with kindness and affection, and supported him through thick and thin,” states Rickel’s attorney Pierce O’Donnell, a partner with Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger in Los Angeles. “The tragedy is that Davis could pay his stepfather what he is owed and walk away with a fortune from Palantir. As the Cross-Complaint alleges: ‘This lawsuit vividly illustrates the truth behind the old adage that “no good deed goes unpunished.’”
Despite the fact that DTA is located in Los Angeles, Davis has abruptly moved to Austin, Texas, raising questions about the management and future of the business.
Rickel has reluctantly filed this action. He was given no choice, however, because Davis decided to air publicly their dispute in a recent lawsuit against Rickel seeking to deprive him of his contractually-guaranteed Palantir profits. This Cross-Complaint is in response to Davis’s lawsuit.