September 29th, 2011 | University

Guo ’09 makes splash with cons

Screen_shot_2011-09-29_at_5
Photo by Robert Peck.

Yale is accustomed to its graduates making waves. But for the last two years, one grad may have been making a few more waves than he should have.

Jerry Guo ’09, a former Newsweek employee and the founder of Grouper, a real-life social networking business that sends random groups of customers to hot destinations around NYC, was recently called out by online dating industry giant Ignighter for pretending to do an interview for The Atlantic Monthly magazine in order to access the site’s secrets. And Ignighter isn’t the first to complain: Guo’s history of unusual tactics extends back much further than that. But according to a recent Betabeat article, the real issue lies not in Guo’s means and ends, but in the diversity of his experiences.

“He was a strange egg, that’s for sure,” said a former staffer who worked with him, quoted in Betabeat’s article, entitled “How Newsweek’s Most Notorious Fellow got Caught Conning Silicon Valley.” “He would disappear for weeks at a time, then call up saying he had an interview with Hugo Chavez or pirates in Africa. Then he would be back at the office, I would see him sleeping under his desk. People joked he was a spy.”

Newsweek’s two dozen filed complains regarding Mr. Guo demonstrate that, regardless of his activity, he does things his way. So it is with Grouper, which is running more smoothly than ever thanks to information garnered by Guo’s fake interview with Igniter executives.

“Jerry is…I think the best word is irreverent,” Micheal Waxman ’09, Guo’s former Yale classmate turned business partner, told Betabeat. ““After all the crazy shit he has done, he’s lucky just to be alive.”