Kyle Sandler Can’t Make It Anywhere

Queue up the song, New York, New York! If you can make it there, you’ll make it everywhere. Kyle Sandler couldn’t make it there. Kyle Sandler couldn’t legally make it anywhere. Kyle Sandler better hope he can make it in prison… because he’s a convicted felon heading to Federal Prison. Kyle Sandler is the Maryland-born and raised, so-called Alabama con man.

I first met him when he was posting under an alias in a Facebook Group. The closed “DC Startups – Fierce Conversation” group which is a subset of the open and more cheerful and perpetually happy DC Tech Facebook group. The Fierce group was founded when snowflakes in the DC Tech group didn’t want anyone to use any term that describes any activity as less than awesome. The DCTech Facebook group is a reflection of the weak and struggling DC Startup scene. It is a space where everything is awesome or we would rather not hear any facts… we can’t handle the truth. It is a place where it is taboo to discuss freeloading, foibles, and failures.

In response to DCTech see no, hear no, speak no evil policy, a slightly-less-safe-space was created where people are willing to share uncomfortable truths. Where real entrepreneurs who welcome a challenge could go to improve their game. Where real entrepreneurs welcomed uncomfortable truths. The members of Fierce know there is little growth and learning without some discomfort.

The DC Startups – Fierce Conversations group has strict guidelines

Community Guidelines – Behavior (ruled by the mob.  there will be multiple snarky administrators responsible for monitoring the tone and will only take unilateral non-mob-driven actions removing comments and members if there is ugly hate speech against a religion, race, people’s moms, etc).

  1. No personal attacks
  2. No solicitation (that means no recommendations of your product)
  3. No blatant spamming or self-promotion
  4. No requests for resources, or general non-private or sensitive information.
  5. No posting your own articles, articles regarding your employer or your best friend unless they invite debate.
  6. If it is so tame it could be posted in DCTech… don’t post it here. Post it there.  
  7. No double posting. Your posts either belong in DC Startups – Fierce Conversations or DC Tech. Not both.
  8. What happens here stays here. Not for publication without the expressed written permission of any parties being quoted
  9. Dissenting opinions should be accompanied with constructive criticism
  10. Disclose any conflicts, relationships or past relationships when taking a pro or con stand on a subject.
  11. Snarky comments accepted as long as they are funny! (Mob rules on funny)

Then in May 2013, a “journalist” from some rag called Nibletz crashed the group. He posted under the name Kyle Shannon, but as you will see below, one of the alert Fierce members figured out he was really Kyle Sandler incognito. The conversation went like this:

Can anyone tell me the best way to get to 1776? – Kyle Sandler, Nibletz

The post was against the guidelines, it was lazy, wasn’t thoughtful, wasn’t relevant and it certainly was not fierce. It was the perfect drivel for the DC Tech group board. But no harm, no foul, so Mr. Cranky responded in an uncharacteristically gentle manner.

Hi Kyle, this group has guidelines and I am going to delete your post. Please post this in the DCTech Facebook group. – Glen Hellman, Mr. Cranky

Apparently, Mr. Kyle Shannon (AKA Kyle Sandler) didn’t like that response, because he started bitching on the Fierce and the over at the milder DC Tech FB group. Even though I thought the guy was an idiot, I was an admin, I didn’t make fun of an easy target, a journalist who didn’t know how to use google maps or couldn’t find his way to the “epicenter of all startupatude,” called 1776. I just gave him a friendly message and deleted his post. The rest of the conversation went like this:

Thanks Glen for deleting the post of a visiting journalist looking to find out information on how to get to a great startup spot in DC. Real Classy… Is this fierce enough or should i call it a total douche move… ban forthcoming right? – Kyle Sandler, Nibletz

This post is completely and totally out of line. If you’re welcomed into a community, make sure you take the time to understand how that community works. Also, learn how to use this new product called Google Maps. They have this AMAZING feature called “Get Directions”, and incredibly, you can choose “By Public Transit” as one of the search criteria. As a tech journalist, you should really familiarize yourself with this amazing and wonderful product. You may like it so much that you want to write about it! – Group Member 1

Or you could just ask a community member who does the commute every day. Oh and btw 1776 doesn’t easily populate on google I guess we have different opinions on community – Kyle Sandler, Nibletz

Dood, if you’re not intelligent enough to figure out the address for 1776 using Google (*hint* type in search term ‘1776 dc’) I have no idea how you manage to not drool all over yourself with every sentence you utter. As I said, take the time to understand how this group works. People here are plenty welcoming and appreciate it when new people participate. However, coming on here and flaming the moderator is not welcome when it’s completely unwarranted. – Group Member 1

Nor is it appropriate for the moderator to say some douchey bullshit I’m well aware of how Google works and am operating on about 4 hours sleep in 4 days I’ve got 6 hours in DC and thought I’d ask some bright people for something easy didn’t mean to get your panties all in a wad – Kyle Sandler, Nibletz

Kyle, You must be a fabulous journalist! – Glen Hellman, Mr. Cranky

Oh ok..he is a tech blogger…but his name on his LinkedIn (with no obvious true journalism credentials) says “Kyle Sandler” and not “Kyle Shannon”? Funny… – Group Member 2

In those days, we allowed anyone involved in Tech Startups including academics, founders, employees, and the press to join the group. The only requirement was that everyone submits a bio. After this discussion with Kyle, the group agreed, we would cap membership at 100 members and we would vet those members more carefully (don’t ask, we are not accepting new members). So everyone was removed from the group and the process to rejoin began.

Back to Sandler. Ever since that introduction to Kyle Sandler and Nibletz, I’ve been ridiculing the clueless, numbnuts at Nibletz. While I have little respect for the clickbait press release reposters that call themselves journalists at Technically DC and DCInno, I have even less respect for Nibletz. They are the lowest of the low of Tech Journalists. Nibletz is lower than mattress prices on President’s Day.

Last year when I reported that 1776 was being bought by Benjamin’s Desk, my old buddy Kyle Sandler showed up on my radar again when he saw an opening to exact revenge on the mean bastard who deleted his request for directions (unfortunately Nibletz.com exists no more or I’d link to it. By the way, you can buy the Nibletz.com URL and donate it to me!).

“Technical.ly reported earlier in the day that Glen Hellman’s Driven Forward originally broke the news that Benjamin’s Desk was in talks to acquire 1776. For starters, Hellman is the most anti-startup community person in Washington DC.”

If a group of swindlers is your definition of a startup community, then he’s right. I do a modicum of research and call out swindlers which differentiates me from Nibletz and their bit vomiting cheerleading buddies at DCInno and Technically DC. So if doing research and calling Bull Shit on fabrications is anti-startup community…. I plead Guilty (something that Kyle has experience doing in front of a federal judge).

I can understand why Kyle Sandler was threatened by Mr. Cranky. Sandler heaps praise on Evan Burfield and Danny Boice… two of DC’s top swindlers. He loves them. He loved the failed Fort and failed 1776, (1776 has transformed into a legitimate business since the acquisition by Benjamin’s Desk and is now a coworking space and not a Frat House for wannabes). He loved all the now failed dens of thievery. As a fellow criminal, maybe Kyle was afraid that I’d do some research on him and reveal that at that time he’d already been convicted of check forgery.

John McCafee

After my run-in with Mr. Nibletz, Kyle began expanding his business empire over and above the Nibletz brand. He moved to Alabama (unqueue New York, New York and queue up Sweet Home Alabam) and opened up an incubator. He partnered with John McAfee, the founder of McAfee Software. You know McAfee, he has a history of run-ins with the law for little things like drugs charges, weapons charge, rape, and murder allegations. Again if criminals are defined as the startup community… I am anti-startup community.

Kyle’s LinkedIn Bio Reads like a saint:

“Today Sandler continues in his role as co-founder, Of Nibletz, although he has always had an aversion to the title CEO , he also holds financial interest in several off line businesses including a casual dining franchise, an NBA team, a terrestrial radio cluster, 2 LGBTQ Friendly major market night clubs and a social media consulting firm.”

Among his multiple unsubstantiated boasts, Kyle self-reports that he worked for Google where he accumulated untold wealth, is the author of a best selling book on startups and is a multi-millionaire.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that Nibletz is no more, it is gone, it is kaput and mister pro-startup community, Kyle is in jail. According to a February 26 report by the Associated Press:

He rode into Alabama a tech savior, then swindled millions

Kyle was unable to make it in tech hotbeds like New York, or Silicon Valley or even his sleepy startup hometown of DC, so like Paul Singh who went to the hinterlands and played tech god to the rubes, Kyle most have seen an episode of Florabama Shores and said Alabama! These yahoos might fall for my bullshit.

Just like Harold Hill from the musical, “The Music Man” who rolled into River City, Iowa to swindle the locals, Sandler moved into Opelika, Alabama, a town of 30,000 people.

He was immediately noticed for his ostentatious behavior. He drove a Jaguar, he lied about working for and making a fortune at Google (remember the guy couldn’t even use Google maps. He never worked for Google). He lied about being an author of a best selling book… there is none.

He spoke nonsensical gibberish, which the Opelikans interpreted as “this guy is so smart that it’s normal that we don’t understand a word he says.” They thought he’s so successful, the reason it doesn’t make sense to us is that we’re not smart enough to get it.  And that’s how a gibberish-speaking nobody was chosen by the startup blind Opelikians to be their own personal goofy one-eyed king of the blind.

Then he chose a his first victim A local kid who had a silly idea about a Bandaid Vending Machine. He convinced him and his family to start Recmed. He damaged this kid and his family by playing on their hopes for startup riches (read more about that here). Kyle circulated a false narrative that an unnamed company offered $30 million for this company. He boasted that he was holding out for $50 million (all fiction). The Opelikans believed Kyle Sandler was a smart, successful negotiator. They all wanted to do business with him.

As his reputation grew he was interviewed by Stuart Varney on Fox Business. He bragged about getting a getting a chauffeur for his new Bentley on CNBC.

Then it all fell apart, like CliqueAPI’s Andy Powers, Trustify’s Danny Boice, Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes, and The Fire Festival’s Billy McFarland, he raised money from the ill-informed looking to get rich quick. There are so many unsuspecting people who catch shark tank fever and all beleive it’s easy to get rich quick by investing in the next Uber.

Sandler presented them that sexy opportunity to load up thier trucks and move to Beverly. The press did their usual minimal due diligence and simply reported an un-vetted story that was too good to be true. They took Kyle’s word without testing the voracity of Sandler’s boasts or even doing the simplest background check. No this was a sexy story and it would sell advertising. Don’t let the truth get in the way. That would be anti-startup community behavior.

Like in Mel Brooks, “The Producers.” he sold 200% of the stock in an incubator, raising $1,9 million.

Then the truth started coming out and oh, how the pretend mighty fell to reality.

Someone found out that in 2010 Sandler was convicted in Maryland and North Carolia of attempted theft, check fraud, and forgery. In 2018, he was arrested in Texas around a scheme to raise $650 million in a startup media company.

In August of 2018, he pleaded guilty to two federal charges of wire fraud and securities fraud. He still faces state charges of theft. A judge has ordered him to pay back $2.1 million to investors in his incubator. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and is currently awaiting sentencing.

I’m going to miss Nibletz. It was a great source of humor and inspirational crank. Check out this video and see if you can spot cameo’s from DC’s finest, The Fort (which was only a thing for like 15 minutes), Steve Case, Anton Gelman of Cont3nt.com (which I was surprised to find out is still a thing), an angry Scott Case (sorry Scott but that looks like a mug shot).

Did you catch that ironic line, “We don’t want to be unethical and take money from millionaires?” Sandler wants to be unethical and take money from poor people.

Now me, I was always a fan. I was so impressed with his work at Nibletz that I summarized his work, thusly (see that article here):

  1. If Nibletz was a light bulb they’d make refrigerator bulbs look bright
  2. If Nibletz had an intelligent thought in one of their articles, it would die of loneliness.
  3. If someone wanted to buy a used brain they couldn’t get one at Nibletz
  4. If Nibletz had a wart removed from its ass it would be brain surgery
  5. If Nibletz had to take a urine test, they’d study all week and still fail

Yet, the founder of Nibletz “made it” for a while. Here’s a guy who knows that if you can’t make it anywhere… you can sucker people out of money in the backwoods of nowhereville… move to the middle of nowhere. Pull a Paul Singh. Well if you can’t make it in Opelika, he’s going to have a difficult time making it in the slammer (unqueue Sweet Home Alabama and queue up Folsom Prison Blues).

March 30, 2019 Update: According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Kyle Sandler, 43, was sentenced Tuesday to 63 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release after he serves his sentence. Sandler was ordered last month to pay more than $1.9 million in restitution to his victims.