Over the last few days, the social network Vero has grown like a wildfire. It flew to the top of the App Store charts–and it is still number two today. As Fast Company‘s Melissa Locker wrote earlier this week, the mobile app has actually been around for a few years, and it promises to give users a more “authentic” social network experience. But it is catching people’s attention recently with a few features that seem to improve on apps like Instagram and Facebook.
But who is really behind Vero?
According to the Daily Beast, the founder has a questionable past. The app was started by a Lebanese billionaire named Ayman Hariri. Hariri used to help run his family’s construction business, which was reportedly littered with huge problems. The company allegedly had over 31,000 complaints for not paying workers wages–and the Saudi Arabian government had to intervene and give basic necessities to workers who weren’t able to make a living because of the company’s negligence.
The construction company has since shut down, and now Hariri has Vero. It’s unclear exactly what his plans are for the social network–but many now question what the company will do with the information users share.
You can read the full Daily Beast post here.
Update: Vero has written a blog post clarifying Hariri’s role with the construction company. It writes:
We want to clarify his role and tenure for our users. Saudi Oger was a Saudi construction company founded by Rafic Hariri, Ayman Hariri’s father, in 1978. Rafic Hariri was Prime Minister of Lebanon in 1992 to 1998, and again from 2000 to 2004, prior to his assassination in 2005. Ayman was living in the US at the time of his father’s assassination and returned to Saudi Arabia to support his family and the business. He did so until 2013 when he was Deputy CEO and Deputy Chairman, after which he divested of his interests in Saudi Oger and exited the business to pursue other initiatives.
It goes on:
Ayman has had no operational, management or board oversight of Saudi Oger since 2013. He has not been involved in any decisions since he left the partnership in 2013. His full attention since that time has been on bringing Vero to its community of users.
You can read the full post here.
[Correction: An earlier version said the Lebanese government intervened to help Hariri’s family business’s workers. It was actually the Saudi Arabian government. We regret the error.]