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Founder of Arcade City ride app leaves CEO position

Union Leader Correspondent

November 20. 2016 7:02PM
Former Dover resident Christopher David is stepping down from his role as CEO of Arcade City, a peer-to-peer network that aims to compete with Uber and Lyft. (COURTESY)

PORTSMOUTH — The creator of Arcade City, a peer-to-peer network that helps independent drivers and riders find each other, says it is on the verge of revolutionizing transportation, even as company leaders are distancing themselves from him and he is stepping down from his position as chief executive officer.

Christopher David, who moved from Dover to Austin, Texas, after Uber and Lyft pulled out of the city in May, said the company made $500,000 through a recent crowdfunding campaign and that its private Facebook group page has more than 41,000 members.

David launched his first mobile app for Arcade City on Valentine’s Day in Portsmouth. He had been the founder of Free Uber, fighting city officials to allow drivers to provide rides without obtaining commercial insurance and passing Portsmouth’s background check, but he decided to branch out on his own. By Feb. 10, David reported having 1,800 drivers signed up for Arcade City globally.

Instead of setting the rates for rides and taking a percentage from drivers, Arcade City allows drivers and riders to figure out how much the ride is worth. David said the company plans to make money by offering marketing services for independent drivers and those who work at traditional cab companies. It is also working on a new app where the driver and rider negotiate the rates, but Arcade City can take a 5 percent usage fee.

On Nov. 7, David announced he will keep the title of sole founder of Arcade City, but is stepping down and will transfer ownership of his intellectual property and corporate resources to another entity selected by his company’s “city council.”

“Though I will be seeking also to identify more capable corporate leadership for our new entity, I will always remain active in Arcade City as at least a community member. I hope to always ‘innovate from within,’ and contribute where I can, subject to the will of the community,” David wrote in a social media post.

This decision comes after investment analyst Ivan Chen-O’Neill and others questioned David’s claims. Chen-O’Neill posted many detailed accounts online about his interactions with David, who he said was born Chris Pille. Chen-O’Neill said he met David while living in California, where David ran a failed campaign for that state’s legislature in 2012 and Chen-O’Neill was his campaign manager. Chen-O’Neill said David owes him more than $5,000 in back pay and for charges to a credit card.

On Nov. 9, Chen-O’Neill updated his blog, saying the current Arcade City development team has reached out to him to address his concerns.

As in Portsmouth, where David was charged with wiretapping after videotaping a bouncer at Daniel Street Tavern telling him Uber was illegal, police in Austin sought to crack down on Arcade City this summer. Officials claimed he was operating a ride-hailing service without obtaining a city license. David argued his company was too decentralized to be considered a ride-hailing service.

David said none of their drivers are employees or independent contractors. They essentially operate their own business and use Arcade City as a tool to grow a client base.

Because the startup is still pre-revenue, David and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Maher have been dependent to this point on the $330,000 they received through angel fundraising. David said they attract Bitcoin aficionados, who see how Arcade City can change the transportation landscape.

“We’ve kind of been a company and a movement all in one package,” David said.

David maintains that while Uber and Lyft are working to control rates for drivers until they can be replaced with self-driving vehicles, he is working to give those in the transportation industry a chance to remain gainfully employed long-term.

Business development specialist Bernd Lapp will assume David’s role as “mayor” of Arcade City. He will oversee development of their app from his base in Zug, Switzerland. Lapp is the founder of Cryptocon, a consulting firm that helps to develop cryptocurrency-based business models.

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