Milan, Italy—Local tech startup Gazpach.io closed its doors for the last time this Friday evening, following a court battle with a single customer over an IT ticket. Self-described as “Jucero, but for soup,” Gazpach.io is the newest addition to Milan’s fledgling startup scene, having incorporated only this past Tuesday. Within a matter of days, the company had already built out its beta Soupreme Squeezer™ soup-dispensing device and acquired its first customers.
Aaron Grindleberg, a local architect and status quo apologist, was one of these first customers. Tech Dunch reached out to Grindleberg to discuss his experience with the company. “I like soup, so I figured I’d give Gazpach.io a shot. I wasn’t too happy with the sample pack, though, so I tried to cancel my subscription. They definitely tried their best to keep me on board. They offerred a few free months of soup and also a visit to their HQ in Milan. I took them up on their offer, but by the end of it, I still just wanted out.” A likely story, but Grindleberg wasn’t satisfied with just not receiving soup. Claims Grindleberg, “I was receiving cold soup alerts on my phone at all hours of the day. It was driving me crazy.”
In a blatant attempt to undermine Gazpach.io and Milanese ecnonomy as a whole, Grindleberg invoked the GDPR’s “right to be forgotten” clause that allows citizens of the EU to request that their personally identifying information be deleted from a company’s database. Within an hour of the request, Grindleberg had received a Cease and Desist from Gazpach.io’s legal department, asking him to unfile his request. Of the request, Gazpach.io’s CEO, Alex Hegelman, had to say “it was an unabashed attempt by our competitor, Crabs.co, corner us out of the market while we were on the ropes. They clearly paid [Grindleberg] to snoop around during his HQ visit and look for any weaknesses they could exploit in our system. How else could they have known that we don’t have an engineer who knows how to delete things in MongoDB? Crabs.co called our bluff, but we were not going to fold.”
But fold they did. In addition to refusing to comply with Grindleberg’s claim, the company sued Grindleberg for damages incurred in the time it took to evaluate and reject his claim. “A minute of our time is worth an hour of time in any other industry,” says Hegelman. But as avid readers of Tech Dunch know, counting on the courts to stand up for startup rights is a mistake. Hegelman described the case: “The trial lasted about 30 minutes. They let Grindleberg make his case and that was pretty much it. I tried to talk but the judge kept telling me to ‘shut the fuck up.’ Someone should really investigate this.” Unable to comply with the subpoena to delete a single record from a single database, Gazpach.io was forced to shut down.
Although he was forced to tear his own company apart before they could so much as IPO, Hegelman is not unhopeful. “I’m pretty bummed about the whole ordeal, but how does this sound: Spaghett.io.”