Dethroned 24-year-old influencer David Dobrik, who started out in the boozy man cave of YouTube and migrated to a more family-friendly neighbourhood of D’Amelios, has now exited the photo-sharing app Dispo, which launched just three weeks ago.
Dispo, which Dobrik co-founded as “David’s Disposable,” has said that he’s left so as not to “distract from the company’s growth.” This follows a string of accusations of abuse against Dobrik and his “Vlog Squad,” including alleged sexual assault by one former member, and a subsequent sponsor exodus.
Dobrik, a 24-year-old Teen Choice Award winner, is known for stunts and shenanigans with a rotating cast of reality TV-style bros, which has reportedly earned him a $US9.5 ($12) million mansion with a Hawaiian punch fountain and, once, a namesake Chipotle burrito.
In addition to cutting ties with his own company after less than a month, Dobrik’s corporate partners, including EA Sports, DoorDash, and HelloFresh, also gave him the boot over the weekend.
Other influencers have pointed out a history of bullying, misogyny, and racism in earlier Vlog Squad videos. One woman, speaking to Business Insider, alleged sexual assault by former Vlog Squad member Dominykas Zeglaitis for the purposes of a 2018 video. The woman, who says she was a sophomore at the time, claims that Zeglaitis supplied her alcohol.
In the video, which has since been set to private on YouTube, the line between reality and spoof is vanishingly thin. “My buddy’s girl’s over to have a fivesome, so hopefully we’ll have a fivesome tonight,” Zeglaitis tells the camera. As a large group of girls enters, one says, “I have to let you guys know, I don’t really know any of you.” One can be seen led into a bedroom, while the group gathers outside the door to listen. At the end of the video, Dobrik tells the camera: “Dom just had a threesome, and I think we’re all…[laughs]…going to jail.” According to Business Insider, Dobrik removed the video at the request of the alleged victim but not before it had been viewed over 5 million times.
Last winter, former Vlog Squad member and influencer Seth Francois compiled a series of clips in which Dobrik’s crew treat racism as a joke — for example, using blackface and watermelon as punchlines. Dobrik remained silent after the video’s release. Francois later told the influencer-focused YouTube podcast, H3, that he’d been forced to perform non-consensual contact with an older comedian in a now-deleted 2017 video titled “HE THOUGHT HE WAS KISSING HER!! (SUPER CRINGEY).”
Also on the H3 podcast, former Vlog Squad member Nik Keswani also said that he felt that Dobrik exploited his rare form of dwarfism for comedy. He said Dobrik agreed when asked to stop, but Keswani added, “I knew that by saying that, I wasn’t going to be in the content anymore.”
Vulture has a long rundown of Dobrik’s string of alleged offences, which date back to at least 2017.
After months of brushing off or ignoring calls for accountability, Dobrik issued a video last week titled “Let’s Talk,” less apology than an entreaty for followers not to abandon him. “Consent is something that’s super super important to me,” he says, in front of a Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award, adding that he always makes sure he has “approval” from people in his videos and that there are times “when a person can change their mind.” Referring to the “Seth situation,” a series of racist remarks and pranks, Dobrik says, “I missed the mark with that one.” He adds that he’s grown. “I don’t agree with some of the videos I’ve posted,” he says.
“David has chosen to step down from the board and leave the company to not distract from the company’s growth,” Dispo told Gizmodo via email. “Dispo’s team, product, and most importantly- our community- stand for building a diverse, inclusive, and empowering world.” Earlier this month, CNBC described “buzzy” Dispo as “the invite-only picture sharing app everyone’s talking about.” The idea is to replicate the disposable camera by removing editing functions and delaying “developing” time so that users can’t see photos until the following morning. Last year, the app received $US4 ($5) million from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who praised Dobrik as a “motivated visionary.”
Venture capital firm Six Seven Six, which led the seed round of investment for Dispo, said in a statement published on Twitter, “The recent allegations against David Dobrik are extremely troubling and are directly at odds with Seven Seven Six’s core values.” The firm said it is “in full support” of Dispo’s “decision to part ways with David.”
Soon after Business Insider published assault allegations against Zeglaitis, the venture capital firm Spark Capital announced that it was cutting off Dispo. HelloFresh, Dollar Shave Club, and EA Sports followed. Dobrik stepped down from the board before bowing out entirely.
Dobrik was not immediately available for comment.