In this new article, Lashinsky provides additional color about the man behind it all. Described as a scientist gifted with sales ability, Erlend Olson was able to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from the likes of Goldman Sach, Kleiner Perkins, and Passport Capital.
Using that money, Terralliance bought some crazy stuff and entered into some crazy state level arrangements:
- Payments to goverment officials in the Congo where Terralliance had signed a drilling concession
- Soviet fighter jets (to use to acquire their own maps)
- Several oil drilling projects
So what happened since we last left off?
John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins, who was not involved with this deal previously, got involved. They led the restructuring of the company and also tried to resolve some disputes among the firms that put money into Terralliance.
The company also scaled back to its roots as a mapping firm and is no longer buying drilling rights.
In July, 2009 Terralliance sued Olson, who started a rival venture after being let go from the company.
There’s still a lot of unanswered questions, but at least answers are slowly leaking out about this rare debacle.