Damien Patton is the the 47-year-old co-founder and CEO of the rising data gathering startup Banjo. The combination of the company’s success and its founders’ inspiring life story has made him the subject of many tech media and business publication profiles, for it is the kind of gutter to boardroom story on individual bootstrapping America has always celebrated. He has described an abusive childhood that caused him to run away from home at age 15. He joined the U.S. Navy, then worked as a NASCAR mechanic before learning the craft of crime-scene investigation. He learned to code, and then became a co-founder of Banjo as he raised nearly $223 million in venture capital for the Utah-based company.
However, Americans don’t like their rags-to-riches stories to begin too deep in the gutter. The tech news outlet OneZero uncovered transcripts of courtroom testimony, sworn statements, and more than 1,000 pages of federal records revealing that before he turned to coding, Patton was a member of the Dixie Knights, a Ku Klux Klan group active in the Nashville area in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and not a passive one. He was was involved in shooting up a synagogue, for example. Understandably, this detail was something Patton did not highlight in his inspirational speeches before aspiring entrepreneurs.
The question is, now what? What does this mean today? What should it mean? Continue reading