#SequoiaLeakedTapes: Paid Twitter Trend Targeting VC Firm Strikes Again

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A hashtag called #SequoiaLeakedTapes, began trending on Tuesday, raising suspicion among many that the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital India was the target of a paid trend on the micro-blogging site.

The hashtag was promoted by tweets from a number of random accounts whose bios suggest that they exist for amplifying paid content on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the trend. The accounts tweeting the hashtag do not appear to be bot accounts.

BOOM analysed over a thousand tweets using the hashtag #SequoiaLeakedTapes and found evidence to suggest it is a paid trend against Sequoia Capital.

A 23 second-long audio recording between a man and woman, where the man can be heard saying, "the single best thing you can do is take a co-operative approach," and mentions 'step away,' is also being tweeted with the hashtag.

The account @PriyaSharma430, who is tagged with the audio recording, had only 18 followers till the time of writing this article but the recording had already garnered over 2,00,000 views.

So much for helping female founders and @sequoia spark 😂😂😂😂😂 this is too funny. @singh_sequoia kya baat. #SequoiaLeakedTapes Well done.... pic.twitter.com/bKaPdRKFVb

— Priya Sharma (@PriyaSharma430) May 17, 2022

An archive of the tweet can be seen here.

Earlier in May, another hashtag #SexistSequoia which included the link to an Economic Times article about the suspension of Co-founder and CEO Ankiti Bose from Zilingo - a B2B fashion e-commerce company.

Singapore-based Zilingo, which began in 2015, is one of Sequoia Capital India's key investments in South East Asia. Bose was suspended from Zilingo's board pending a full investigation, on March 31, 2022 after a whistleblower raised allegations of financial wrongdoings at the company.

A few of the tweets on Tuesday tagged Ankiti Bose's Twitter handle, which still describes her as co-founder and CEO.

Several of the accounts amplifying the hashtag showed no previous history of tweeting about start-ups, venture capital or business.

Take for instance the handle @HeyaJennifer, who tweeted about providing 'support and justice to this guy Ankit'. The archive can be seen here.

I think we need to raise our voice to provide support and justice to this guy Ankit, he is innocent @singh_sequoia #SequoiaLeakedTapes pic.twitter.com/5BDwTmwLjM

— Jennie🐰 (@HeyaJennifer) May 17, 2022

The handle says 'Accepting only paid promos in DM',  in its bio and mostly retweets tweets from other users.

Similarly another tweet from the handle @sanjeevkumar__ appears to be congratulating Sequoia Capital India's Shailendra Singh. The earlier hashtag #SexistSequoia had tweets targeting Singh.

This is really mind-blowing stuff. Kudos to@singh_sequoia


— संजीव कुमार (@sanjeevkumar__) May 17, 2022

Another user, hilariously though unintentionally invented a new venture capitalist 'Sequoia Singh' using Shailedra Singh's handle name.

This Is Very Unexpected Thing
Did By Sequoia Singh. How Can He Threatened Someone Brutally. This Audio Is A Proof.@singh_sequoia #SequoiaLeakedTapes pic.twitter.com/u4N8RB3Siw

— prem!! (@BeingP4Prem_7) May 17, 2022

Co-ordinated tweets and hashtags are not a new phenomenon on Twitter and have plagued the platform for years with political parties being the most rampant abusers.

Increasingly companies in India that have deemed to offend religious or cultural sensibilities have also been targeted with co-ordinated tweets.

Inauthentic accounts or spam accounts are also a sore point between Elon Musk and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.

On Tuesday, AFP reported that Musk said his deal to buy Twitter would not move forward unless Twitter showed proof that less than 5% of the accounts on the platform are fake or spam.

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