I go straight to the point, this article details how Ryde, Wenn Digital and KODAK are using the blockchain hype to scam investors and employees of hundreds of thousands of euros.
In January 2018, KODAK made an announcement at CES that it would be venturing into the field of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies. All the media outlets jumped on the news and it like wild fire. I remember reading an article from Bloomberg about KODAK’s planned ICO, which brought more credibility to the scam. After the announcement, Eastman Kodak shares went up by more than 500%.
At the time of the announcement, no one really understood the partnership arrangement between all the parties involved. Eastman Kodak was the company fronting the news and reaping the immediate benefit.
By the end of January 2018, an agency (IFindTech Ltd) which is working on behalf of KODAKOne contacted me to lead their blockchain project. At the time, I was consulting at Channel 4 in the UK. Like most people interested in blockchain, I was aware of KODAK’s ambitions and was excited to be part of it.
In February 2018, Jan Denecke (CEO of Wenn Digital) and Matthew Walker (President of Wenn Digital) met me in a coffee shop in the Brick Lane area of East London. We discussed the project at length and this created even more excitement at what could be achieved. I had a couple more video conference calls with Volker Brendel (CTO of Ryde GmBH). Wenn Digital and Ryde GmBH were mentioned in the context of the agency building the platform for Eastman Kodak, what I came to find out later to be inaccurate.
March 2018, I travelled to Berlin to meet the team. I was employee number one for the blockchain team; well I was the only one until they recruited more people. The team grew from 0 to 4 within two weeks. Just like myself, the team was excited to work on the project and we started experimenting with various distributed ledgers. The team was made up of experienced developers. I tried to gather some requirements in the context of the blockchain application. I was working closely with Volker Brendel. It quickly become clear that blockchain was an afterthought as they were not real requirements at this time. I decided to go through some of the marketing documents which were produced to try to understand the business goals. As an experienced tech lead and architect, I was able to devise some requirements pertinent to blockchain. The management team quickly approved it. We then started building a more concise proof of concept which was demoed to and approved by management. We were then requested to demo the PoC to the investors which we did and it went smoothly.
We were now entering May 2018, I had been working on the project for 2 months and I hadn’t received any remuneration as yet. I approached Volker Brendel as I was reporting directly to him. He told me that everything was in order regarding payment and that I should get in touch with iFindTech back in the UK, which I found out later to be a lie. They finally made a payment for the month of March. I did not pass on any of my expenses to them was only charging for my normal daily rate.
Volker Brendel requested that we prepare a user centric demo for the investors which would show how an end user would use the platform. As we did not have a user friendly front end, I asked a good friend of mine, Adebayo Dada, to help out. Within two weeks, we had a workable MVP product with a sleek user interface. The demo went down pretty well with the investors.
After the MVP, the blockchain development was no longer a priority for Ryde GmBH, Wenn or whatever name they go by. The company kept on hiring more stuff in admin and big data but invoices were going unpaid. My April 2018 invoice was still outstanding and that of May 2018 had already been sent to them. We are now in June 2018, and had only been paid once in the 4 months that I had been working for them.
It seemed that Ryde / Wenn / KODAKOne had a very unsuccessful ICO. Investors were not interested in the platform. KODAKOne had spent money buying celebrity names such as Fernando Alonso (the F1 driver). They initially had Lionel Messi (Barcelona) but this fell through as Messi’s team asked for money. They also spent money by preferential deals with the likes of the Oak View Group without any clear business goals. After the failed ICO in the US, the team moved their focus to raising capital from South East Asia by flying the whole management team and staying in 5 star hotels while their employees’ salaries and invoices remained unpaid.
July 2018, I received a payment for my May 2018 invoice. I was in constant contact with Volker Brendel about the arrears of the invoices. He always laid the blame on the CFO and he, Volker, kept giving me guarantees that I would be paid every single penny that they owed me. He also confirmed that the ICO was a shamble and no one subscribed to it. Therefore, they would try to open to all investors across the globe.
August 2018, I still hadn’t received any more payments. My contract with Ryde / Wenn Digital / KODAKOne would be up by month’s end. I decided not to renew until all is owed was paid in full. They offered me to go permanent on a reduced salary with bonuses and KODAK coins. I am the architect of the KODAK coins and I know they are yet to be released so, what exactly am I getting? I let my contract run out and I did not return to the project in September 2018. I was still in touch with them and providing guidance, why was I still providing them support? Because I had some good friends still working there.
September 2018, it came to light that I was not the only one in that situation. Ryde hadn’t paid their permanent staff, their outsourcing agencies and other contractors since June 2018. I was still in direct contact with Volker Brendel who was still adamant payment would be made in the coming weeks.
October 2018, the full blockchain team had now resigned, the big data team left and the partner agencies had stop working with them. No one in the company was answering emails or calls.
There are rumours of multiple lawsuits against Ryde / Wenn Digital / KODAKOne, I have received confirmation of at least 3 of them. The lawsuits all have the same goal, to get their invoices paid.
November 2018, still no payment from Ryde to any of the invoices. Instead the company is publishing fake information on the internet that they are launching their platform in beta mode. This is a lie as the person working on it confirmed that he’s keeping the code as a ransom to the money they owe him. The company is in free fall and they are publishing on LinkedIn that they are hiring. Why hire when you have not paid your current and previous members of staff? Which poor souls do they want to torment now?
The team at Ryde / Wenn Digital / KODAKOne do not care about their staff or the platform they are building. They are looking for a fast way to get rich and then bin the whole project. Nothing has been built there since August 2018. Volker Brendel, Jan Denecke, Philip Kohn, Cameron Chell and Matthew Walker should not be trusted to work or do business with.
In my follow up post to this, I will be publishing communications between Ryde / WENN Digital / KODAKOne and myself with regard to my invoices and all the rubbish about loyalty. I will publish the PR stunt that they are running in order to dupe investors and the threats they have been sending me.
Stay tuned for more.