- Tech entrepreneur Marco Nardone pleaded guilty to assaulting his girlfriend at a domestic violence court in London on Thursday.
- He reportedly kicked Toni Allcock in the stomach in a row over his ex-girlfriend. He is due to be sentenced on January 25, 2018.
- Nardone founded photo messaging app Fling, which made headlines earlier this year when it went bust after raising $21 million.
A domestic violence court in London was told how Nardone dragged his girlfriend Toni Allcock by her hair and kicked her in the stomach on December 12, at his £2 million ($2.7 million) Hammersmith flat. The pair were reportedly arguing about his ex-girlfriend sleeping at the apartment.
The 29-year-old tech entrepreneur – whose app Fling was backed with $21 million (£16 million) before it went bankrupt – appeared in court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to the charges, according to reports. He was bailed for sentencing on January 25.
Nardone did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Describing the incident to a domestic violence court, prosecution lawyer Jonathan Bryan reportedly said:
“It was quite a sustained assault. He grabs her by the neck with both his hands and she was shouting, ‘Leave me alone.’ He slapped her across the face and she managed to get out of the flat’s front door into the communal hallway. He locked her out of the flat and she banged on the door, demanding to be allowed back in.
“She tried to press the block’s concierge bell in the hallway, but Mr Nardone prevented her doing that by covering the bell with his hand. She made for the lift and he followed her and dragged her back towards the flat by her hair. Again she made for the lift and CCTV shows Mr Nardone blocking the lift’s doors from closing and he kicked her in the stomach and she fell to the floor.”
The magistrates reportedly ruled that the case was serious enough to warrant a pre-sentence probation report. This means that Nardone’s background and criminal record will be considered as part of his punishment.
How Fling catapulted Nardone into the spotlight
Nardone made headlines in February this year when Fling went bankrupt, leaving several employees unpaid and debts of £880,997, including a £120,268 debt with Twitter, and a £45,068 debt with Google.
Nine former employees that Business Insider spoke to said that mismanagement at the top of the company was a major issue. Several of them said they believed Nardone’s behaviour changed significantly during Fling’s lifetime, while others told stories of mysterious girls around the office and wild party weekends.
Nardone dreamed of turning Fling into the next Snapchat and compared himself to Evan Spiegel, according to one former employee, but Fling never made any revenue. Despite that, Nardone still enjoyed first class flights, Ibiza hotels, and Michelin-star restaurants on work time.
Fling allowed people to send photos and videos to strangers around the world. The random recipients could then chat and reply to the sender. The app also showed “Flingers” a map of where their Flings had landed. Within weeks of launching, people were using the app to send nude photos and sexual material to strangers.
In June 2015 Fling was pulled from the App Store by Apple with no warning or notice. Apple hated the fact that Fling was a randomised messaging app that was similar in many respects to the notorious Chatroulette, according to a former employee.
At its peak, Fling claimed to have 4 million users on its app, who sent a total of 50 billion messages. However, the company burnt through the last of its millions in August 2015, according to documents produced by bankruptcy administrators.
After failing to secure the funding it needed to continue, Fling quietly shut down in August 2016, based on bankruptcy administration documents submitted to Companies House by Unii Limited.
Photos on Facebook and Instagram show that Nardone and Allcock went travelling during the administration process. The entrepreneur visited Bora Bora, Nice, Venice, the Maldives, and Miami all in the space of a few months.
Nardone has launched a new app called Gig FM. The app was incorporated by Nardone on January 23, less than half a year after Fling filed for bankruptcy, according to a document filed with Companies House. The app allows musicians to broadcast live performances to Gig FM users in exchange for “Gift Points” that can be cashed out.
Nardone has had something of a privileged upbringing. He attended the £37,000-a-year Charterhouse boarding school before studying physics at Imperial College London.
He then worked as a trader for Credit Suisse for a year before becoming a technology entrepreneur. His father, who invested more money in Fling than anyone else, is the multimillionaire founder of Enotria Winecellars, a successful wine business that distributes wine and spirits to bars and restaurants around the UK.