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 point.
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 secret.
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 prosecutors.
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 staffers acknowledged.
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 questions remain.
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,” he lamented.
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.
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 strings.”
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.
“Hey buddy, don’t forget to work on getting us a re-supply of superman vitamins ASAP.”
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 this time.”
(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 the border.”
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 notoriety.
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 playbook.
“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.)
“This is that nutty girl i just paid a zillion dollars to go away.”
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 CIA.)
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 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 find.”
“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 days later.
“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 find.”
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.
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 efforts.”
“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 account.)
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.
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.
The central 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 wrongdoing.)
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 into him.
“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 that position.
“The woman told the FBI no such crime was committed.”
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 wrote.
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 published a story on the claims in November and quoted Dial calling Goguen a “billionaire a la Harvey Weinstein and [Jeffrey] Epstein.”
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 prison!”
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.”