The story of Mos or: How @Mira404 learned to stop worrying and scam herself, her child, her team, her investors, and her 100,000 college student customers

or: How the New York Times went Wrong, and could still Be Good Again

or: How Sequoia’s Diversity Hiring and Tiger Global itself was a ZIRP

or: Setting the arc of Mos’s history straight

Primary sources

Written up gloss/narrative

Hook: in medias res

Amira screamed into her phone. How could this shit be happening? Just when she was about to get her big break, it was all going wrong.


Just six months prior, she’d gotten off the ground. She’d used her charisma to pivot from troubled childhood and vagrant teenage years in Tunisia and Paris, via the Davos speaking circuit, to the tony highrises of San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood.

There, she’d used her red lipstick, winning expression, and identity to hoodwink some legit folks. From Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, to Kate Clark (then at Techcrunch, now onto bigger and better publications), to Bloomberg, before the tech narrative shifted, everyone wanted to believe in a woman of color who was on a mission to help students pay for college.

NYT’s first piece, which had been killed after founder noncooperation despite ostensibly interesting content

She’d been working with the New York Times on a puff piece to launch her startup into the media stratosphere. Surely the industry rag that had fêted Sam Bankman-Fried would be amenable to gassing up her venture?

But after the wining and dining, after the photo shoot, after all the copy-editing, an editor had noticed a loose, second-degree connection between a Mos employee and a notorious sex offender. There was no evidence or suggestion the Mos employee had anything to do with the sex offender’s behavior / was personally close with him.

The New York Times insisted on asking about the association and potentially including a salacious mention in their piece. Even if there was no evidence of a connection, this was a scandalous individual working with kids. Won’t anyone think about the children? Or at least the engagement?

And Amira, in classic self-defeating controlling founder mode, exacerbated rather than assuaging their concerns. She became defensive, combative, hostile, and refused to discuss the matter further.

So New York Times did exactly what … an engineer in his twenties, but not a jaded executive in his thirties … would never expect. They killed the piece! Rather than publishing it as is, it appears they have a policy of needing ongoing approval from the startup founder being puffed. I guess the access journalism goes both ways…

A gloss on 2020 at Mos

No matter, there were other entities to be scammed. For one, there’s the team. Amira scored a coup hiring an Israeli onto the team, which (including customer support) was mostly Tunisian women of color.