Venture capitalist Michael Goguen has been
besieged by legal battles and a growing roster of enemies.
Wealth and Power Reporter
The text from the star venture capitalist boasted about his
latest conquests—in the bedroom, not the boardroom.
“In Austin tonight,” Michael Goguen wrote, in a message
reviewed by The Daily Beast. “Met with my blonde baby mama
early in the evening then she had to go home to her husband. A
normal guy would have gone to bed, but I decided to go out. By
2am I was exhausting a new addition to the harem. 20 yrs old,
Brazilian and Thai mix. Sweet as hell, total nympho.”
He sent along a photo of one of the women to hammer home his
It was August 2013, and Goguen—then a 49-year-old partner at
Sequoia Capital—had sent the text to Matthew Marshall, one of
his newly hired employees, who allegedly claimed to be a
former CIA operative with experience conducting reconnaissance
for the Marine Corps. He was the perfect man to trust with a
Marshall vibrated with admiration. “Good God!!! She’s
gorgeous!!! You are the man!!! Truly!!!” he wrote back.
Over the ensuing months, the pair exchanged hundreds of other
messages. Some were purely salacious: “She was so fuckin tiny
I think I crippled the poor girl for a week,” Goguen wrote
that September, referring to a 21-year-old woman.
Other texts more darkly touched on Goguen’s tactics both for
executing the affairs and maintaining his public image, such
as using “safe houses” in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana,
and allegedly conducting “surveillance” on his adversaries.
He and Marshall also discussed plans to conduct paramilitary
missions overseas, which would theoretically allow Goguen—who
was worth at least hundreds of millions of dollars—to act as a
covert Batman against global crime and terrorism.
Together, they formed Amyntor Group, a defense contractor
designed to be “heavily focused on intelligence,” Goguen told
The Daily Beast last month. The objective was altruistic, he
said, like helping rescue Yazidi women from genocide in Iraq:
“I’ll fund that all day long.”
Goguen separately wired more than $2 million to Marshall for
the paramilitary missions, over multiple payments including
$750,000 in 2015 “to strike Syrian Terrorist Leaders,”
according to a court filing later submitted by federal
But these world-saving ambitions never materialized. In fact,
none of the secret missions took place at all.
Last month, the feds announced that Marshall
had pleaded guilty to wire fraud, money laundering, and
tax evasion and admitted to fleecing the venture capitalist by
spending his money on “loans and gifts to friends and family
members.” He will likely have to pay
Goguen back more than $2.3 million.
Marshall’s indictment also revealed that he “was never
employed as a CIA agent,” nor was he associated with an elite
reconnaissance unit of the Marine Corps. Prosecutors further
alleged in court that he may have fabricated some documents
related to the case.
The plea, on its face, suggested that Amyntor was merely a
sham. But the truth is considerably more complex.
Amyntor really did vie for government contracts, such as a
previously reported proposal to develop a private
“spy network” for the Trump administration. Executives
also mulled offering services to foreign governments, like the
United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Libya, multiple former
Goguen insists he knew nothing about those plans.
The scandal has engulfed the entire town of Whitefish, a
bucolic hideaway for the super-rich on the fringe of Glacier
National Park. And it is just one tentacle in a series of
legal tangles involving Goguen—featuring many overlapping
characters—ranging from an explosive sexual misconduct lawsuit
to an extortion plot by an acquaintance.
Goguen has won all of these legal battles, though massive
Based on private messages obtained by The Daily Beast, two
dozen interviews, and thousands of pages of legal documents,
one charitable interpretation of Goguen is that of a serial
womanizer with terrible judgment who got dragged into an epic
con—a man whose escapades left him vulnerable to grifters, but
who never broke the law.
“You’re supposed to be an investor for a living, have these
wonderful instincts and all that, and you’ve been suckered,”
His growing roster of enemies, including Marshall, the former
Whitefish chief of police, and a (real) CIA alum, insist that
something more nefarious is at hand.
Time is running short on whether they can prove it.
“You’re supposed to be an investor for a living,
have these wonderful instincts and all that, and
you’ve been suckered,” Michael Goguen lamented.
Matt Marshall knew how to spin a yarn. He started working as
a contractor in Iraq with the infamous private
military outfit Blackwater in 2004, and from the outset
he allegedly claimed to have extensive recon experience with
the Marines—a credential that made him especially attractive.
But nobody bothered to verify Marshall’s backstory, said two
people familiar with the matter. According to Dale “Chip”
McElhattan, who helped the State Department oversee
contractors in Iraq—and who later worked for Amyntor—people
took Marshall’s statements at face value.
“We just had to do a shotgun blast of recruiting… and we just
thought they’d tell the truth,” McElhattan said. (Marshall
declined to comment.)
In 2012, Marshall connected with Goguen through a mutual
acquaintance, which resulted in another dispute over his
integrity. That January Goguen received an email—which The
Daily Beast obtained—that appeared to come from Marshall, in
which he presented himself as a “former special operations
Marine” who could help Goguen “look into personal security.”
Eventually, Goguen said, he received a copy of Marshall’s
alleged resume, which claimed he had experience as a
paramilitary operations officer in “Ground Branch SAD,”
referring to the covert Special Activities Division of the
CIA. It also detailed his time in the Marines, in which
Marshall supposedly participated in hostage rescues, deep
reconnaissance, and “direct action assault operations” between
1988 and 1996.
The Department of Justice would later
reveal that Marshall had actually served in the Marine reserves
between 1994 and 1999 and had received an “Other Than
Honorable” discharge “after accumulating 82 absences from
inactive duty training.” He worked as a state trooper in
Indiana at the same time.
But Goguen didn’t know that, and he bought the pitch.
“[Marshall] looked the part, sounded the part, had the lingo,”
he recalled. “He was really pulling on the hero-complex
In 2013, the pair met in person at a conference in Las Vegas,
which culminated with a visit to the Spearmint Rhino strip
club. Soon after, Marshall joined Goguen’s team and moved into
a home owned by the venture capitalist. (This later resulted
in yet another discrepancy: Prosecutors alleged that Marshall
fudged documents to falsely create the impression he had been
gifted the property; the matter was settled separately from
his criminal case in 2019.)
Goguen also offered to pay for a breast enhancement surgery
for Marshall’s wife.
After entering Goguen’s orbit, Marshall assumed an expansive
role, which occasionally featured some unusual requests.
“Hey buddy, don't forget to work on getting us a re-supply of
superman vitamins ASAP,” Goguen wrote in a July 2013 text
message. (Marshall later testified in a sworn statement that
Goguen had been referring to Viagra.)
Over the next 15 months, the pair, both married, traded
dozens of messages about their sexual conquests, making
reference to a “harem” of women Goguen allegedly kept on
rotation and to “safe houses” where they rendezvoused.
In August 2013, Marshall texted to confirm whether he should
make an offer on an additional “safe house.”
“Yes, let's make an offer,” Goguen replied. “I want to try
even harder to keep this one super discrete [sic] so I'll be
setting up a new trust specifically for this one with me as
the hidden owner, and the wire won't come directly from me
(Goguen maintained that the conduct was perfectly legal;
“harem” referred to a number of girlfriends he was juggling,
while “safe houses,” he said, was a term Marshall invented.)
Many of the texts included photographs of women, sometimes
graphic, accompanied by details of the sexual encounter.
In between chest thumping, the duo occasionally delved into
business. Marshall texted in October 2013 that a planned
operation in Mexico was approaching $500,000 in costs after
accounting for “additional personnel, equipment, and bribe
“That’s about the number I expected. I’ll wire to your
account tomorrow,” Goguen replied.
The venture capitalist later texted the link to a news item
about abducted girls in Nigeria, saying it was the kind of
situation he hoped Amyntor would one day be able to address:
“Talk about global scale Batman shit,” he wrote.
Marshall, meanwhile, kept Goguen in the loop via text about
other crackpot ideas, including a “personnel recovery request”
and an “offer to take out the number 2 guy in a group across
Neither mission happened, Goguen said—assuming the
opportunities were even real.
As the two men traded texts, Goguen—then a little-known tech
investor—was unwittingly laying the groundwork for his own
It started with his former acquaintance Bryan
Nash. Their relationship had devolved after Nash filed
for divorce from his wife, Stephanie, in 2008; Nash grew
suspicious that Goguen was funding her legal bills.
Stephanie told The Daily Beast that she commenced a casual
relationship with Goguen in 2012, after the divorce. “We had
lunch here, a dinner there, and those cases were followed by a
dalliance,” she said. They sometimes discussed business;
Goguen told her of his dream to become a billionaire.
“You have to understand, I was super lonely and sad. It was
like grieving,” she said.
“We connected as grown ups once or twice,” added Goguen, who
said he helped Stephanie look for a job and gave her a
computer but did not finance the divorce proceedings.
Bryan Nash allegedly demanded $250,000 from Goguen in 2013
for legal fees likely related to the divorce, according to a
subsequent FBI affidavit. When Goguen refused, the affidavit
said, Nash continued to pursue him relentlessly and threatened
to expose his affairs.
Marshall, in his role assisting Goguen with security, was
aware of Nash’s campaign and kept it on his radar; he and
Goguen texted about it. And so in May 2014, when a separate
issue emerged—this time involving a
woman threatening to file an explosive lawsuit against
Goguen if he didn’t pay her $40 million—Marshall already had a
“I want to put the same surveillance guys on her starting
Thursday that we used for [Nash],” he messaged Goguen.
(Goguen said surveillance of the woman was limited to a
single event his wife was hosting, which he worried the woman
would crash; he said private investigators were hired in the
Bryan Nash case because he feared for his safety.)
The woman, Amber Baptiste, told Goguen that he had given
her HPV during an affair that stretched back more than a
decade. Goguen believed her, and he agreed to the $40 million
settlement, payable in four increments. He texted Marshall a
photo of Baptiste, adding, “This is that nutty girl i just
paid a zillion dollars to go away, & who I fucked one last
goodbye time on Friday.”
He also agreed to a pledge that read, in part, “I, Michael
Goguen do hereby promise to Amber Baptiste, a human being I
will love forever, that I will never have sex again for the
rest of my life without first discussing my HPV infection with
my prospective partner.”
(Goguen later expressed
remorse for the affair, saying, “I handled relationships
I was having in my marriage the wrong way.”)
After the first $10 million went through, however, Baptiste
refused to comply with a requirement to cease communications
and demanded that Goguen accelerate his payments, a court
later found. Goguen then backed out of their deal.
Baptiste filed a breach of contract lawsuit in 2016, and the
case landed with a
crash. It alleged, among other claims, that Goguen had
forcibly sodomized Baptiste and kept her as his sex slave, in
addition to giving her HPV. Following blowback in the media,
Goguen almost immediately lost his job at Sequoia.
He filed a counterclaim against Baptiste, alleging extortion
and fraud. Her lawsuit was eventually dismissed when she
failed to meet discovery requirements; a court also found that
Baptiste forged medical documents and that she otherwise
lacked credibility. Goguen won his counterclaim, and she was
ordered to pay his money back, plus interest. She was barred
from repeating any of the allegations against him.
(Goguen admitted to The Daily Beast that he also asked
Marshall to report Baptiste, who is Canadian, to federal
authorities over accusations that she had committed
immigration fraud; Baptiste could not be reached for comment.)
Nash, too, lost his battle, in a case covered
by Bloomberg last year. He was charged with
multiple counts of stalking and communication with intent to
extort, but pleaded guilty only to misdemeanor blackmail,
resulting in five years of probation. He plans to file motions
to modify the decision.
In 2015, a year after Marshall had suggested placing Baptiste
under surveillance—but before her and Nash’s cases
concluded—Goguen started to harbor doubts about Amyntor and
its chief executive, he said.
The mission still appealed to him. “Mike was enamored with
true alpha males,” said Frank Gallagher, a Blackwater alum who
joined Amyntor as executive vice president in 2014 and has a
positive view of the venture capitalist.
But the company had not landed significant deals, even though
Marshall had managed to recruit big names, like John Maguire,
a CIA alum with decades of experience at the agency.
“He was at ‘The Farm’ for a while. Everybody knows John,” a
former long-time CIA contractor said, referring to the
agency’s training center.
Maguire testified to Marshall’s bona fides, Goguen said,
which temporarily shielded him from scrutiny. (Unbeknownst to
Goguen, Marshall allegedly later loaned more than $100,000 of
Goguen’s money to Maguire, which eventually led to a money
laundering charge against Marshall. Maguire defended the loan
to The Daily Beast as an innocuous favor from Marshall, which
he quickly paid back. He said he almost never interacted with
Goguen and denied telling him that Marshall had worked for the
Around the end of 2015, Goguen told the Amyntor CEO that he
was beginning to mistrust him.
“I’m really used to openness, transparency, honesty, and I
don’t feel like I get that from you,” Goguen recalled saying.
Marshall panicked. He reputedly sent a long email to Goguen
professing his loyalty—a copy of which The Daily Beast
obtained—which featured a meandering war story supposedly from
his time overseas.
“I take calling you my best friend very seriously because I
haven't and don't historically have a ton of friends,” the
letter read. “The only best friend I've ever had besides you…
was killed by a sniper round overseas 15 feet from me and I
had to make the decision to leave his body and recover it 2
“I carried him for about a half mile under less than ideal
conditions and had to leave him because I was slowing down the
team too much and couldn't fend off the bad guys much longer…I
won’t betray your friendship or trust no matter what and if I
do, please run me over dead with the biggest vehicle you can
As Marshall allegedly groveled, Amyntor sought new ways to
generate revenue. Some gigs were low-key: Chip McElhattan, an
Amyntor vice president who knew Marshall from his Blackwater
days, said he worked private security at the Rio Olympics on
behalf of the company.
Other endeavors were more… experimental. McElhattan
said Maguire traveled to Irbil, Iraq, with more than $500,000
and a plan to offer the Kurds intelligence support; the effort
fizzled. Another idea involved designing a high-speed boat to
help foreign governments chase pirates; that flopped, too.
“We just made this shit up as we went along,” said
McElhattan, who believed Marshall was using Goguen as his
personal “ATM machine.”
According to McElhattan, Maguire operated what he described
as a secure room at the Trump International Hotel in
Washington, D.C., and following Donald Trump’s election he
pitched the president’s inner circle on a plan to help the
administration counter “deep state” investigations by the FBI.
A similar account of Maguire’s antics at the hotel was previously
reported by The Intercept. (Maguire said he was simply
approached to investigate hacking concerns from team Trump.)
Mary Beth Long, another veteran of the CIA and a former
assistant secretary of defense for international security
affairs under President George W. Bush, also became an adviser
to Amyntor. (She maintains she was never paid a dime.)
Long said she believed Goguen would have trouble obtaining a
security clearance, considering his history of legal disputes.
She advocated making Amyntor an international company—thereby
dodging some of the regulatory and clearance requirements of
the United States—and providing services to foreign
governments who wanted their expertise. “Libya was very
interested,” she said. “That’s where the money was.” Goguen,
she said, didn’t go for it.
Mary Beth Long, a veteran of the CIA and a former
assistant secretary of defense, also became an
advisor to Amyntor.
Some of the shenanigans made their way into the press.
BuzzFeed published an
article in 2017 about an Amyntor pitch “to set up a
large intelligence network and run counterterrorist propaganda
“It was exactly the opposite of what I said I’d be interested
in,” fumed Goguen, who told The Daily Beast he was cut off
from the decision-making process.
Soon after, around the summer of 2018, Goguen stopped funding
Amyntor and moved to dissolve the business before it could see
through plans to score a big payday. He said he also kicked
Marshall out of his house in Whitefish, which Goguen owned,
and reported him to the feds.
Long continued to stand by Marshall. “l can tell you he
worked for the CIA,” she said in a call with Goguen in
November 2018, citing her conversations with Maguire and other
unnamed sources, according to a person who heard the comments.
(In truth, a subsequent court
order from the judge overseeing Marshall’s criminal
trial stated that neither Long nor Maguire had direct
knowledge of Marshall’s alleged work for the agency. A CIA
spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny Marshall’s
That same month, in November, Long reached out to Bryan
Nash—Goguen’s longtime nemesis—declaring that she was a friend
of Marshall and that they had a “common interest” she wanted
to discuss: “bringing to heal[sic]…his former employer and a
piece of shit.”
Long defended her work at Amyntor in comments to The Daily
Beast. She said she was just pursuing a legitimate business
opportunity and that all of the proposed contracts she was
aware of were above board.
The scandal has engulfed the entire town of
Even in Whitefish, where the mountains are dotted with
palatial retreats, Goguen is hard to miss. He lives in a
75,000-square-foot compound above Whitefish Lake outfitted
with an indoor gun range, multiple pools, and a ball pit for
his kids. As of 2017 it was
reportedly the 11th largest home in the country.
Goguen’s fingerprints are all over town. He owns the popular
local watering hole, Casey’s; he funded an Internet Crimes
Against Children task force; and he has poured millions of
dollars into a search-and-rescue operator called Two Bear. He
sometimes rappels from the helicopter himself.
“He’s done a lot of good for the community, I know we all
appreciate it,” said Jeanie Konopatzke, a local realtor who
sold several properties to Matt Marshall. She wasn’t sure if
Marshall was acting on Goguen’s behalf, but she believed the
properties housed corporate employees.
So it was a huge deal when rumors started swirling about a
possible investigation into Goguen by the Whitefish Police.
allegation, which Goguen vehemently denies, went like
this: Around early 2012, a 17-year-old girl was paid to pop
out of a cake at a party in Whitefish; she believed, for
reasons that were not made clear, that she “was roofied” at
the event. Later—perhaps that night, or farther in the
future—she was asked to dance for some older men, including
Goguen, who purportedly paid her $1,200 for sex.
An email describing the alleged incident, which appeared to
come from the alleged Jane Doe victim, was sent to Amber
Baptiste’s former lawyer in 2016.
The claims made their way to Whitefish Police, where
detective Shane Erickson started looking into the matter,
according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation.
Marshall previously had rapport with Erickson. “Do you think
you could set up a meeting with the local FBI guy to discuss
MG off the record,” he texted the detective in late 2017,
referring to Goguen.
But Marshall ultimately grew to believe that Erickson was
sandbagging the Jane Doe case and growing too cozy with
Goguen. In September 2018 he sent a
message to police chief William Dial—who had developed
similar antipathy to Goguen—about a possible way to have
Erickson ousted from his job.
That summer, Erickson told Dial he had been invited on an elk
hunt paid for by Goguen that was valued at roughly $15,000,
according to allegations later unsealed by the Montana Public
Safety Officer Standards and Training Council (POST).
Whether or not Dial signed off is highly contested, but in
private messages he and Marshall acknowledged that the gift
would violate state regulations. (Dial said
the messages were taken out of context; he abruptly resigned
from the department in August and is facing an inquiry about
whether he lied to state authorities about the situation and
his interactions with Marshall. Dial is also suing
Goguen, claiming the venture capitalist had previously
pressured city officials to fire him; Goguen has denied
Erickson went on the trip, despite the allegations he and
Whitefish Police had received about Goguen. Following an
inquiry, he left the police department soon after. He now
works as an analyst at DeliverFund, an anti-human trafficking
nonprofit partly funded by Goguen, who sits on its board.
(Erickson said he could not comment on matters related to his
work at the police department, in part because he may be a
witness against Dial, but stated that he discharged his
“duties with honor and integrity.” He also cited the publicly
available documents that referenced “a conspiracy with Matthew
Marshall that affected me.”)
Goguen told The Daily Beast that he never tried to influence
Erickson’s work, arguing that there was never a formal inquiry
“They did their own 24-hour investigation, because it was
trivial,” he said of Whitefish Police.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Around the time of
Erickson’s departure, a new detective took over the Jane Doe
case and pursued it for months. In the end, the inquiry went
nowhere, seemingly in large part because the alleged victim
backed Goguen’s version of events.
She submitted a sworn statement affirming that her encounter
with Goguen had been consensual, Goguen said; he acknowledged
to The Daily Beast that his lawyers helped draft the
affidavit, though the woman declared she was not paid or
coerced to sign it.
In a statement to The Daily Beast this month, she reiterated
The woman did have sex with Goguen in 2012, she wrote, but
she was 19 years old at the time and “fully consented.” She
added that “neither drugs nor alcohol influenced” their
encounter, and she was not paid to sleep with him, nor did she
report any alleged wrongdoing to the police.
The woman also maintained that she had been repeatedly
contacted by Amber Baptiste and Bryan Nash starting in around
2016. As for the email sent to Baptiste’s attorney, the woman
wrote that she had never sent it; she suggested that she may
have been hacked if it really did originate from her account.
FBI agent Mark Seyler also poured cold water on the
allegations. In his affidavit in the Bryan Nash case, he wrote
that the bureau had interviewed a woman whom Nash “claimed was
drugged and raped [by Goguen] while she was underage.”
“The woman told the FBI no such crime was committed,” Seyler
Certain facts about the situation and the way it was handled
by law enforcement remain in dispute. In former police chief
Bill Dial’s response
to the Montana POST investigation, he noted that the
department had executed a search warrant of the woman’s email
account and determined that the letter to Baptiste’s attorney
“had not been forged.”
The case files are still under seal; a judge is expected to
rule next year on what documents—if any—the public has the
right to see.
The Jane Doe investigation might have faded from view forever
if not for a
new lawsuit that dropped this February. The plaintiffs
included some familiar characters: John Maguire (the CIA and
Amyntor alum) and Matthew Marshall, accompanied by Anthony
Aguilar (Marshall’s cousin, who worked at Amyntor) and Keegan
Bonnet (with whom Marshall has two children).
The suit outlined what the plaintiffs labeled the “Goguen
Sexual Enterprise,” consisting of a “harem” of women and “safe
houses” used for extra-marital affairs. It delved into
grislier allegations as well—not substantiated—including that
Goguen tried to use Amyntor to protect his misconduct and
sought to have his enemies murdered on more than one occasion.
The plaintiffs also claimed that Goguen had covertly paid
millions of dollars to women over many years. (Goguen said the
payments included gifts to former girlfriends and venture
capital investments in start-ups the women had conceptualized,
like a cupcake business. He blasted the lawsuit as a naked
attempt by Marshall to defame him while he was on the verge of
pleading guilty to criminal charges.)
“[The] FBI investigated every single one of those claims,”
Goguen told The Daily Beast.
Spokespeople for the FBI and Department of Justice declined
to comment when asked if that was true.
Still, some of the allegations made news, including in the
Montana outlet The
Flathead Beacon—which has closely covered
Goguen’s cases—and the New York Post, which
story on the claims in November and quoted
Dial calling Goguen a “billionaire a la Harvey Weinstein and
Goguen’s attorneys quickly
sued the Post, the author, and Dial for
publishing “false and defamatory” statements.
If you ask Goguen, the threads of deception have finally
converged and his public-facing story is nearing a close. The
Baptiste debacle is long over, Nash pleaded guilty, Marshall
faces decades of possible prison time, and Goguen’s lawyers
have filed a motion to dismiss the “sexual enterprise” case.
He and his fourth wife, Jamie, are settling in for some
quiet. “It’s been a six-year-old nightmare centered around
this guy that just pled guilty,” Goguen said, of Marshall.
“It’s been closure for us. We’re pretty happy.”
Added Jamie, in a Facebook post: “To the conspiracy of
Marshall blowhards—drop the soap & have fun in federal
But their revelry may be premature. Scores of questions
remain, and Goguen’s roster of enemies has only metastasized.
Marshall could even try to renege on his guilty plea,
according to a person familiar with the matter.
Some of Goguen’s neighbors aren’t buying his story either.
Here is a billionaire venture capitalist, with every resource
imaginable at his disposal, who claims he was duped by his old
acquaintance, his former lover, his security manager, two
former spies, and the local police chief, one after the other.
Said one resident of Flathead County: “He’s either lying or
the dumbest motherfucker Stanford ever graduated.”