Shervin Pishevar has filed a defamation awsuit over an alleged ‘smear campaign’ against him


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  • Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar is suing a GOP
    political opposition research group that he alleges
    was conducting a smear campaign against him.
  • The suit claims that the company, Definers Public
    Affairs, has been calling up reporters and spreading lies about
    him such as that he’s a Russian agent or that he’s made a
    payoff to settle a sexual assault claim.
  • Pishevar, an outspoken supporter of former Uber CEO
    Travis Kalanick, has recently threatened to file a lawsuit over
    some of Uber’s decisions since Kalanick left, but this lawsuit
    is a different beast altogether.

Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, best known
for backing Uber and his role as executive chairman of
Hyperloop One,
filed a lawsuit late Monday night
in which he claims a
company known for doing GOP political opposition research was
conducting a “smear campaign” against him.

The company is called Definers Public Affairs. It
was founded in 2015 by two men who worked on Mitt Romney’s
presidential campaign together, Matt Rhoades and Joe Pounder,
both of whom Pishevar has named in the suit as
individuals as well. The company recently opened a Silicon Valley
office with the focus of helping Valley companies deal
with things in the political world, regulatory issues,
investigations into Russia ads, that sort of thing. 

Pishevar alleges in his suit that Definers, and Rhoades in
particular, has been calling up reporters and spreading damaging
stories about him in order to tempt reporters into researching
those tips and spreading these stories.

He says that word of some of the stories has gotten back
to him. Among the stories Pishevar says are being spread
about him: calling him an agent of Russia, a supposed
“incident with a prostitute in Europe,” allegations that he
settled a claim for sexual assault in London, that he was unable
to raise additional money for his venture investment fund and
that he had raised money from investors to invest in Uber but put
it “into his own pockets” instead.

Pishevar says in the lawsuit that all of the above stories are
lies. The defamation lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior
Court, alleges that Definers is spreading such stories in the
service of Pishevar’s business competitors.

‘Claims are delusional’

Definers is available for hire to conduct research on business
competitors in Silicon Valley, but Tim Miller, who opened
the company’s Silicon Valley office, calls Pishevar’s
accusations “delusional.”

“Mr. Pishevar’s accusations against Definers are completely
false. His claims are delusional, we have never engaged in any of
the actions he outlined in this complaint, and Definers has never
done any work with regards to Mr Pishevar,” he told Business

Perhaps the weirdest thing in the suit, other than the list
of rumors that Pishevar believes are being spread about
him, is that he mentions Uber’s head of PR Jill Hazelbaker
by name.

Hazelbaker came to the Silicon Valley PR game by way of politics,
having worked on a number of GOP political campaigns, including
John McCain’s presidential run.

The suit mentions that she once worked with Pounder on that
campaign. The mention of her name is odd because he doesn’t
accuse her of anything other than knowing
Pounds. Hazelbaker had no comment about the lawsuit. 

Pishevar is also known as an outspoken advocate for former Uber
CEO Travis Kalanick, even after he resigned. Pishevar
threatened to sue over Uber’s still in-the-works
funding deal with Softbank, which, if finalized, would

eliminate the extra voting rights of Kalanick
and other
early investors and limit Kalanick’s influence as an Uber board

So far, that lawsuit has not yet materialized but this one has.