How It All Started? – The Truth Behind Tryp Rides, Finally Revealed by Taha Abbasi
How It All Started? – The Truth Behind Tryp Rides, Finally Revealed by Taha Abbasi
Let’s start with a bit of background
In this article I’ll share the facts behind what went down at Tryp Rides under the management of Robert McNulty (CEO, Board Member, and Founder at Tryp Rides) “Bob” and David Motta (CMO and Co-Founder at Tryp Rides). In my observation both Bob and David have shown a pattern of behavior that in my opinion can be described as “abusive management practices”. I feel that their actions related to the management approach along with their tendency to not be transparent feels like unethical behavior in my opinion and observation.
Both Bob McNulty and David Motta have continuously praised the amazing things I brought to the table when it’s convenient for them, then turn around and condemn and defame the same things when it’s inconvenient. In fact, you’ll find examples of this behavior in the posts, weekly video calls and blogs that have been posted by them since my separation from Tryp Rides (“Tryp Technologies Inc”, “Tryp”). Starting with the announcement they made about the reason I left Tryp Rides. You can learn more about this in my post titled “13 Reasons Why Tryp Rides CTO Taha Abbasi Left“.
This Isn’t The First Time, There’s A Pattern Here
Whats makes this worse is the fact that they have done this to other people in the past. Take the example of what they have done to previous CTOs like Tobi Mac, Rudy Brathwaite, and many more. The behavior exhibited tends to burn relationships and create a very hostile environment.
A glaring example of the hostility created as a result of these rather unprofessional actions can be seen by simply looking at a few of the past interactions and documented comments Bob McNulty’s colleagues have shared in court appearances. Bob McNulty used to own a company by the name of BoomJ, which also operated under the names of Beyond Commerce and Local Ad Link, later known as Kaching Kaching. There was a lawsuit with the United States government regarding this company, where apparently Robert McNulty’s company failed to pay payroll taxes. This lawsuit with the United States government was in response to the United States Government cracking down on Robert McNulty’s company BoomJ for not paying payroll taxes resulting in penalties costing over $582,084.50 according to the court documents. George Pursglove who started BoomJ with Bob McNulty in October of 2006 was asked to provide a statement as part of the proceedings. The CEO of BoomJ George Pursglove was asked about Robert McNulty’s honesty. This was his response:
In response to a question about Mr. McNulty’s honesty, Mr. Pursglove stated that:
“He [Mr. McNulty] wouldn’t know how to spell it, No. 1, and he wouldn’t know honesty if it was staring him in the face, and he wouldn’t know it was honesty if St. Peter himself was delivering it to him.”George Pursglove – CEO BoomJ – Case with United States Government
Think about it, this is a person who started the company with Bob McNulty, he was the CEO of that company for quite some time. It is alarming to think, how badly you might have to treat someone for them to say something like this about you in a court statement. I can understand though, because I’ve experienced some abusive and threatening behavior myself.
“He [Mr. McNulty] wouldn't know how to spell it, No. 1, and he wouldn't know honesty if it was staring him in the face, and he wouldn't know it was honesty if St. Peter himself was delivering it to him.” – George Pursglove – CEO BoomJ Click To Tweet
Bob McNulty was asked to respond to the statement made by George Pursglove. Bob McNulty’s response seemed a bit too familiar. Much like the responses we hear him give in the weekly webinar calls every Thursday for Tryp Rides. He has a tendency to deflect the question instead of answering it. In fact his response is similar to the false and incorrect statements that these guys are circulating around about me right now. They even sent me a Cease and Desist letter in an attempt to keep me quiet about the actions taken by them at Tryp Rides. I’ve written in detail about this in my post titled “The Truth About Why Tryp Rides CTO Taha Abbasi Left, Revealing Attempts of Bribery, Intimidation, and Defamation“.
In his response, Bob McNulty creatively ignored the comments George made about Bob McNulty’s honesty, and instead answered as follows:
Mr. McNulty, for his part, testified regarding Mr. Pursglove:
He resigned from the company. I mean, I saw a significant difference in his attitude over a period of maybe a quarter or so. You know, in raising capital, things don’t work. But at the end of the day, you know, you either believe in the business, get committed and go forward, or don’t. At some point, he [Mr. Pursglove] decided that to leave the company, wasn’t in his best interest to stay there. However, shortly after he left, I found that he was actually working on a plan to compete with our business model and — and had reached out to people to raise capital and things like that.Robert McNulty – Case with United States Government for not paying payroll taxes
I’ll share the details of this pattern behavior in another article titled “Did Robert McNulty fail to pay Employment Payroll Taxes at BoomJ – Beyond Commerce – Local Ad Link and Kaching Kaching?“. For now, let’s explore how things went down from start to end at a high level.
State of Tryp Rides When I Started at The Company
When I was going through the interview process at Tryp Rides, I was entertaining multiple job offers. However, after reviewing the potential impact Tryp Rides can have on the lives of millions of people around the world, coupled with the facts Robert McNulty shared with me, I decided that Tryp Rides would be an amazing fit. I’ve written in some detail regarding why I joined Tryp Rides in a separate article titled “Why We Joined Tryp Rides – By Nick Odio and Taha Abbasi“.
After I was hired, Bob and David shared that they are fearful that the technology is being held hostage by Rudy Brathwaite (CTIO). Apparently, MacAppStudio the software firm hired by Tryp Technologies Inc was owed over $100K and they would not allow Tryp Technologies Inc to gain access to the software to conduct stress testing until full payment was completed. I was quite taken back on my first day at work to be greeted with this unusual situation which was not discussed or revealed during my interview process. More on this later.
The Technology Audit, PCI Violations and Security Breach
One of my first tasks became to secure the technology assets of Tryp, and conduct and audit on the technology built. To perform a detailed audit, I suggested that we utilize the senior engineers, architects and consultants from the OneByte division and other divisions at Web N App. These experts helped conduct a detailed audit of Tryp’s systems and helped to secure the platform.
In the process, we found critical faults including PCI compliance violations. Tryp Technologies Inc was storing non-encrypted customer credit card numbers, CVV, expiration dates, Bank routing numbers, checking account numbers and SSNs in publicly visible AWS S3 buckets. Anyone who clicks on the link in the public web could see a customer’s complete sensitive and private data.
This is similar to the type of violation that Target got in trouble for in 2013.
I notified Bob McNulty, David Motta and Jeffery Aaronson of these critical issues and told them of the requirement to notify users, shareholders and relevant parties of the breach of security. Furthermore, all these documents were accessible from a user’s account in plain view, all user accounts were at risk of a brute force attack which could break the entry OTP code in 10,000 iterations. This would take less than 10 minutes to break. This was such an extreme risk and violation of PCI DSS and security standards that Muneeb Ali who is the CEO of the OneByte division at Web N App didn’t want his engineers anywhere near this data or system. Muneeb even included a clause in the “Indemnification & Performance Accountability – Data” section of the contract that Tryp Technologies Inc later signed, specifying the risk of this breach:
During our audit of the existing/legacy system built by Rudy’s team, we discovered that his team did not store user data in a security compliant manner. This poses a significant historical and indefinite risk of data breach and liability. Tryp Technologies Inc. shall indemnify, defend and hold Web N App LLC. and it’s subsidiaries, partners, vendors and affiliates harmless from all lawsuits, claims, liabilities, damages, settlements, or judgments, including institutional costs and attorney fees, which may arise as a result of a data or security breach of the legacy systems or data generated or stored in the system prior to the date of deployment for the application built solely by Web N App LLC. (See milestones described in Tryp Rides Product Requirements v1.0 document).
The New Direction Forward and The State of Tryp’s Funding
After reviewing the technology built by the previous technology team, and the issues identified, it was clear that we needed to adopt a new direction. I started executing on the path forward in line with the Critical Path plan I shared with the management team during my interview process. This included identifying software vendors who would be a good fit for the requirements of our project, budget and timeline needs. During my interview meeting with Robert McNulty, I asked him about the state of Tryp Rides’ funding. He mentioned that he had personally funded Tryp Rides with $3 MM of his own money. Furthermore, he stated that $1 MM of this has been allocated to technology and $ 2 MM to marketing and ops (If this was the case, with our burn rate, there is no way we should have run out of money in April, then September, or and again in December of 2019, and we should have been able to make payments for Dev Work). This information was a critical factor in me deciding to take the job offer at Tryp Rides as it signified a slightly reduced risk profile.
The Disconnect Between What Bob Said About Funding and The Reality
However, when it came time to hire staff or a software vendor, it seemed that the funding amount Bob shared with me is not in alignment with the cash available at the moment. This became apparent as we started exploring software vendor contracts, traditional software vendors require a 30% to 50% deposit on the project to start work. Our project was going to cost over $1 MM over a period of 7 months. Since, Tryp couldn’t pay the traditional deposit, and other vendors didn’t allow us to intimately work with individual developers, the OneByte division at Web N App was seen as the best option. The deposit requirement was reduced to 10% as a result of my relationship with Web N App.
The contract with the OneByte division at Web N App is clearly stated and transparent. It describes my relationship with both companies, the operating margin, and further states that all parties carefully read and understand the contract prior to signing it:
Please read the contract on the previous page to make sure you understand all the details involved with us working tcogether. It’s really important to us that everything is transparent and understood from the beginning so that we lay a solid foundation for a great working relationship. By Signing this contract, you are confirming that you understand the scope of what is being delivered, and committing to this scope. Any changes or additions after the signing of the contract will be out of scope to ensure a timely delivery of the committed milestones.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT TIMING:
Taha has shared the business requirement to get the “First Drive / Ride” application out by 15-June-2019. This gives us less than 35 working days (accounting for Eid) to complete all the required elements, incl uding 4 Mobile Applications (Rider iOS, Driver iOS, Rider Android, Driver Android). We have committed to this timeline in our scoping document with the understanding that the project can officially start on 22-April-2019. Because of the urgency of v0.25 (due 02-May-2018), I have already authorized work per Taha’s request.
I am committed to delivering completed releases to you in a timely manner. However, I also have a responsibility to reduce the risk for my division and ensure our SOP is followed. Per our SOP, I cannot authorize the significant allocation of our resources for v0.35, 0.4, 0.5 and 1.0 until we have met the following milestones from a contractual standpoint:
- Executed this proposal and contract by signing it (All required parties)
- Received confirmation of the transfer of funds transfer for the amount of the initial deposit.
Any delay of the above items beyond 22-April-2019 will highly likely cause a delay in the deliverable dates of each version. For example, if we don’t finalize the milestones mentioned above until 24-April-2018, the deliverable will now be subject to delay between 2 and 4 days. Resulting in a delivery date of the “First Drive / Ride” rollout (v0.4) to be moved from 15-June-2019 to a date between 17-June-2019 and 19-June-2019 in accordance with the timeline penalties defined in the penalties section of the attached contract. This delay will impact all releases, not just v0.4.
RESPONSIBILITY TO REVIEW PROPOSAL AND SCOPING DOCUMENTS
Even though there is urgency from a business standpoint as requested and shared by Tryp, I would like you to know that there is no rush on the part of Web N App LLC. or it’s OneByte division to sign the contract quickly. We encourage you to take your time and thoroughly review everything we are providing in this proposal and the relevant scoping documents prior to signing an agreement and transferring funds. You just have to keep the real impact of delays in mind and as long as the delay is acceptable, you can take your time with finalizing the contract.
The Defamation of Technology and Claims That Technology Is Incompetent
Robert McNulty (CEO, Founder and Board Member), David Motta (Co-Founder, and CMO), Jeffery Aaronson (CFO and Board Member) all reviewed the contract and Signed it (See contract signing page “last page” and Bob’s email to the team telling them he’s reviewed it and asking team to sign the contract). I also signed the contract as the CTO of Tryp Rides, and Muneeb Ali Signed the contract as the CEO of the OneByte division at Web N App. It was clearly stated that if there is a delay in payment this would compromise the delivery timelines as scaling the team up would not be possible without payment. Tryp failed to make its initial deposit and cover past due balance from the get-go. Even until 21-August-2019, Tryp had not paid off the initial deposit and past due balance. At that point, the pending balance was 131 days past due. Any software house wouldn’t even start work until the complete initial deposit is paid. However, as a result of my relationship, Muneeb allowed a small scale engineering team to start and continue working on the project during this period. This naturally caused delays in the delivery. At the time, Bob McNulty, David Motta, and the management team would show gratitude and praise the efforts and commitment of the team. They knew that the smaller scale team was working round the clock 7 days a week to do their best to deliver the product that needed a team 4 to 5 times the size. However, Bob McNulty and David Motta never communicated the real cause of the delay to the team at Tryp Rides, investors, or customers. Instead, implied that technology was taking a long time to deliver for an unknown reason, hinting at incompetence. This practice got even worse in the coming months.
Constantly Putting out Fires and Horrible Decision Making Despite Expert Advice Stating Otherwise
Robert McNulty’s Decision Making Issues Since March 2019
Bob McNulty continuously committed to vendor relationships, and deals that put us in a position of disadvantage.
Initial Software Vendor – James and Ariel
NOTE: I am changing the names of the developer and vendors in this section to avoid throwing them under the bus. The names James and Ariel are alias names, replacing the real names of the developers and the vendor. Both of these individuals are hard workers, and did the best they could. These guys just weren't a good fit for what Tryp Rides needed.
Now, back to the issue with picking the software vendor. When I identified the PCI compliance and various technical issues in the system built by the vendors and team that Robert McNulty had previously hired at Tryp Rides, we knew that we had to build a brand new system from scratch with proper architecture and security standards. I recommended hiring a competent team and building it correctly from the get-go. However, Bob McNulty was adamant that I go and meet a gentleman by the name of James out of Texas. David Motta also had serious concerns about working with James and his colleague Ariel. Robert McNulty continued to be adamant about working with James and stated he is one of the most brilliant people Bob McNulty has known. Bob McNulty also stated that he already “owns a system” that James has built for him in the past which he used in iBuyrite and other companies in the past. He stated that James can get it up and running in a day or two. In my experience, nothing of this scale can be done in a day or two. That’s a hackathon, not a product ready for production loads. However, I still flew to Texas with David Motta to meet with James and inquire about “the system that Bob owns and is built by James”. We asked James, about “the system he built and is owned by Bob”, both James and his colleague Ariel stated that Robert McNulty doesn’t own any system that they built. They had provided software development services for him in the past and helped him build a solution at a previous company iBuyrite. Ariel stated, “I don’t even have the password to that system anymore”. Further inquiries into their development process revealed critical flaws. James stated he doesn’t believe detailed regression or unit testing is needed. His approach for testing is as follows; once he deploys code, he checks it on 2 to 3 test cases. If it works in 2 to 3 test cases then it must mean the code is good. I almost fell off my chair listening to this.
It got much worse when we started asking about how they do version control or the deployment process. It became apparent that their lead developer Ariel has never used a system like Git, Github or Bitbucket. When I shared the code repositories with her, I had to teach her how to look up information in the repository. Further, Ariel wasn’t even familiar with basic functionality such as the incognito mode in chrome. This vendor relationship cost the company valuable time and resources. It was still forced on us, despite subject matter experts advising against it.
MLM Model – Bad Payment Providers – How Web N App had to save Tryp Rides so it could launch
The MLM business model has been an issue that has plagued Tryp Rides as a business from the beginning, it further crippled the caliber of technological and financial partners we could work with. Most technology and finance partners categorize MLM business models as “High Risk” and simply refuse to work with them. This is likely one of the reasons Tryp Rides got kicked out of Wells Fargo. Stripe a major modern credit card payment processor won’t touch MLM companies with a 10-foot pole. Stripe supported Uber for their payments in the past and still supports Lyft as for their payment needs.
Once again, Bob McNulty already signed agreements and partnerships with a company called G***ox to use their Q***d solution for our payment processing needs. This was done prior to any technological vetting to ensure the vendor actually had the capabilities to support our needs. By the time I was notified of the relationship, we already had an agreement to work with them. Quickly upon review, I realized the nightmare Bob McNulty had gotten Tryp Rides into.
- The Q***d payment platform didn’t have credit card tokenization, I had to work with them to ensure they build this functionality out so it reduces our PCI Scope.
- Had severe payment processing issues
- At times they couldn’t accept Mastercard, Amex, or Discover at our signup events
- For a majority of the time, the system would just stop processing payments stating a “Bank Declined Error”. When we would call the bank, we would find out that there is no record of a charge request.
- This would come up for Wells Fargo, then a day later Chase was added to the list, and eventually we practically couldn’t process payments from a card issued by any bank.
- Other times their system would go down and they wouldn’t notify us. We would find out when customers start receiving a message: “Cannot process transactions at the moment. Please contact administrator.”
- Everyday it was a new issue
- “MID Daily Limit is exceeded”
- Blockchain service went down – “Apparently the payment processor uses a blockchain service, that company went under and handed the code over to the payment processor”.
- They did not have the ability to handle concurrent transactions from the same location id, if you ran two transactions at the same time, the first one would fail.
- Furthermore, Bob insisted that these guys need to handle our Driver Merchant accounts. With everything I had experienced with this payment provider it was clear that these guys were not equipped to handle Driver Merchant accounts and meet the volume needs we had. I voiced this concern and stated that this is a horrible idea. We have already spent considerable resources and effort just trying to integrate the payment system, instead of working on building our own product. On top of this, Tryp Rides still hadn’t made the full deposit payment or paid towards the contract that they signed with the OneByte division at Web N App.
- We had a launch event for Miami coming up on 17-August-2019. However, this payment provider still hadn’t given us the APIs to onboard drivers. Despite my warnings and suggestions Bob didn’t listen and put us in a position where we have a launch event coming up, and no way to onboard Drivers or to pay them. The only feasible solution was to integrate with Stripe. However, Bob couldn’t get an account directly with Stripe as he had apparently been kicked out of Wells Fargo in the past. Wells Fargo is the underwriting bank for Stripe. Tryp Rides, the company, couldn’t get an account with Stripe yet as it was still operating as an MLM company which is against Stripe’s terms. I had to use the Web N App account with Stripe to enable the launch event rides. Tryp would not have been able to do launch day rides without Web N App allowing them to use their Stripe account. This is the extent to which Web N App continued to serve Tryp Rides as a valued partner and client, largely due to the relationship I have with Web N App. Now, Tryp Rides is turning around and throwing them under the bus, stating they couldn’t deliver a product, when the reality is evidently different.
Tryp Rides would not have been able to do launch day rides without Web N App allowing them to use their Stripe account. – The Tryp Rides Lawsuit Click To Tweet
Tryp Rides Allowed Rides In Miami Without Insurance Coverage and Didn’t Notify Me
Robert McNulty and Jeffery Aaronson didn’t notify me, our users, investors, or many other people in the company that the required insurance coverage to operate in Miami and give rides had lapsed due to a failure to make payments. Knowing this, they still allowed 2 drivers to give rides on the road. Up until the day I left, Tryp Rides still didn’t have the required insurance coverage to give rides in Miami. They still might not have the required coverage. Nick has written a post on this topic titled: “Tryp Rides Provided Uninsured Rides in South Florida“
Further Disconnect Between What is Shared by Bob McNulty About Funding and The Reality
In April 2019, the company failed to pay employees for 2 pay periods. Then in September of 2019, the company apparently completely ran out of money. This was a surprise to us all since Bob McNulty had mentioned that he had funded $3MM of his own money to the company for the year 2019. Based on the funding situation shared with me initially, I had hired Jeremy Adamson, who left a secure job to come to Tryp Rides. Prior to hiring Jeremy Adamson, I was told that we have enough funding to last at least 6 months. I shared this information with Jeremy when offering him the job. When Jeremy came on board the company couldn’t even pay his first paycheck. In fact, the company didn’t make payroll from September to November. A period of almost 2 months. During this period, I personally had to pay $13,000 towards a development bill to keep a limited staff going so we can continue to build our product.
Failure To Pay and To Notify Employees of Tryp Rides’ Funding Situation
In addition to this, Tryp Rides failed to provide health insurance that was promised in my employment agreement and the agreement of many employees. Tryp Rides failed to pay my sign-on bonus as well. This raised serious red flags. If the company really had $3MM in funding then where did the money go? If the company didn’t have $3MM in funding then why were we lied to?
Furthermore, employees kept being told that an investor is about to invest $10MM. The exact words would be “funding is coming tomorrow”. When we would ask about alternatives, or if people should look for another job, we would be faced with abusive behavior stating, things like “I’ve been doing this for 40 years, we’re gonna get funding, there’s no need for plan B”.
I strongly recommended that we tell employees about the reality of funding, i.e. tell the employees “Funding might come tomorrow, but we’re not sure. It could take a few weeks, or a month or two. So adjust your lifestyle and commitment to the company accordingly”. I believe this type of behavior and negligence in notifying employees, contractors and vendors of lack of funds resulted in dire consequences for many of our team mates including risk of losing their housing. At Least 2 employees that I know of had been evicted during this period.
The List Goes On, With Seemingly No End In Sight.
As you can see, management issues, misrepresentations, and unprofessional behavior were rampant among the management. When these problems were brought up, they would be brushed aside or ignored. Most of the problems, perhaps even all of the problems Tryp Rides faced since inception were a direct result of the behavior and mannerisms described above.