These guys were scumbags and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. However, I know it is more common than realized, and I went through a similar situation. I was brought on as an IT Manager, only to realize that the consultant they were paying $100+ per hr, to work 1/10th of the hours I was putting in, would have carte blanche and the bulk of the responsibility. They sucked in a lot of their friends, and other legitimate professionals. They did have some funding and cleared paychecks, but they flip flopped on negotiated extra vacation time and scheduled increases. With about 50+ employees, it was so “Siloed” that everyone thought they were running their own fifedom. The “Sales team” was selling features of the products that weren’t developed yet. They tried to keep the charade up by offering worthless “option shares”, that weren’t worth the paper they were written on. I call it the “Boiler room” start up syndrome. While I “learned” some things, I still consider it one of the worst career moves I ever made. These tactics have even permeated regular businesses, in an effort to suck everything of value out of a new employee, without fairly compensating them. One of my fears is that young people are learning highly unethical business tactics as “business as usual”. You should have walked after the VC meetings, but hopefully you can meet up with someone that is honest. You might never be afforded that type of access again. I’d recommend considering starting your own business, until some of this “Bubble 2” dust clears.