SOCIABL FOUNDER SLAMS FRAUD CLAIMS
Written on the 20 January 2016 by Karen Rickert
THE Adelaide co-founder of Sociabl has hit back at claims he is a fraud, after it was revealed that a number of celebrities used to endorse the app had never heard of it.
The video call app was developed by Brandon Reynolds and Jarrad Hrotek in 2013, which connects users to their favourite star.
Calls cost between $500 and $100,000 with half of the fee donated to charity. Sociabl boasts a stable of 'luminaries' including will.i.am, Richard Branson, 5 Seconds of Summer and Gary Ablett Jr.
The legitimacy of the app came under scrutiny after Reynolds appeared on Nine Network's The Today Show on Monday.
Host David Campbell told Reynolds he saw his name appear on Sociabl, as well as an opportunity to speak to his father Jimmy Barnes (pictured). Both denied any involvement with the app, despite being used in promotional material.
When asked if will.i.am had been locked in as a celebrity caller, Reynolds confirmed he would be available as part of the app's global launch in April and was 'really excited' to be on board.
In a statement, Reynolds explains that a Sociabl talent manager set up the arrangement with both Campbell and Barnes with their digital manager Jake Challenor.
"David though was not looking for a positive interview about Sociabl and our growth to launch, David was looking and the Nine producers were now interested in finding anything they could to put together a better story because what's better than a good news story? A controversy," Reynolds says.
"The Nine Network then took that 25 minutes of in-depth interview and turned it into a three-minute shocker portraying myself, Sociabl and others in a completely false, misleading and defamatory light."
The app's reputation has fallen to further disarray, after publicists from Markson Sparks! claimed Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten would attend the official launch in Sydney on Monday. Neither of the politicians appeared.
The business has reportedly been valued at $9 million, after raising more than $150,000 from undisclosed investors last year.
"I ask the Australian community, instead of trying to tear down this exciting new project by poking holes wherever you can help celebrate growth and progress so create something that has never been done before," Reynolds says.
All celebrities have been removed from the app until further notice.
Image: Sociabl founders Jarrad Hrotek and Brandon Reynolds