Shirley Hornstein, noted in today's morning links as the notorious hoax artist outed by TechCrunch for using photoshopped pictures of herself with celebrities to climb Silicon Valley's greasy social ladder, has apparently already found a new target for her fameballing shenanigans. As Gawker reports today, Ms. Hornstein — or @Shirls to the twitter masses — has taken her roadshow down to Tampa for the Republican National Convention.
In the Valley, Hornstein is well known for diving right into the namedroppy scene. She calls herself an "Angel Investor and (dare I say) Entrepreneur," just like everyone else in the Valley. As TechCrunch notes, she crashed the Crunchies, the tech blog's big awards ceremony. She even got into a Forbes magazine list of Top Women Angels and Venture Capitalists.
Like all grifters, however, Hornstein got greedy. Too greedy. In addition to the accolades in print, Hornstein took her shtick to Facebook where she posted photoshopped, sepia-toned photos of herself with Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake. She even called Samberg "one of my favs people ever," which could definitely be true but the embarrassing side-by-side comparisons of her Facebook photos with the photos she lifted Samberg's image from seem to tell a different story.
Her thing for mop-headed, brown-haired boys extended beyond Timberlake and Samberg though. Where Hornstein really got in trouble was when she claimed to work for former Facebook founding president and Valley playboy Sean Parker at the Founders Fund, where Parker is a managing partner. With all of his Facebook millions, Parker and company did not hesitate to take legal action. TechCrunch quotes the company's complaint against Hornstein, filed in court in San Francisco:
Beginning no later than July of 2011. Ms. Hornstein engaged in a pattern of conduct, which includes making false and misleading written and oral representations, designed to deceive potential business partners and employers into believing that she had prior and/or ongoing business and employment connections to Founders Fund and its partners. In fact, Ms. Hornstein is not now, nor has she ever been, an employee or business partner of Founders Fund or any Founders Fund Partner or executive.
Although many of the folks Hornstein duped are remaining anonymous, probably for fear of embarrassment more than anything else, other Valley types are coming out with accounts of how she regaled them with tales of her early investment in the hot startup Dropbox. She does seem to have some real experience with a few startups, but none high-profile enough to make the PR nightmare of having your face plastered atop the Valley's biggest tech gossip blog go away. Or as another entrepreneur tweeted last night:
The— Kim Taylor (@kimmytaylor) August 29, 2012
@techcrunch Shirls article basically felt like a tech Gossip Girl blast tonight while out with my girlfriends tonight. xoxo.
Now that her personal brand has lost most of its value in here in the Bay, Hornstein has apparently joined the rest of America's phony hucksters down in Tampa, where Gawker points out she has been tweeting from exclusive parties and posting photos of her nights out celebrating wins for Republicans like Will Weatherford, who was just named Speaker of the house in Florida.
Possibly hinting that she's not done in Silicon Valley just yet, Hornstein's most recent tweet from Tampa praised Uber, the Web 2.0 limo service favored by startup types, for making her "feel important" with a ride that felt like a Secret Service escort.