The mobile advertising network Kiip has replaced its co-founder and CEO, who has been on leave since February after he was accused of sexual assault.
On Monday, the company announced it has hired Jason Lapp, a longtime executive at WPP’s data-analyst giant Kantar, to replace Brian Wong, who is facing second-degree felony charges after a woman accused him of raping her during South by Southwest in 2016 in Austin, Texas. The announcement comes after a grand jury on Friday indicted Wong, who stepped down last month at the request of Kiip’s board and is currently “on indefinite leave,” according to the company.
When reached by telephone on Wednesday night, Wong declined to comment on the allegations. However, Samuel Bassett, an attorney at the Austin-based law firm Minton, Burton, Bassett and Collins who is representing Wong, said in a statement that Wong “is innocent of this 3-year-old baseless accusation leveled against him.”
The charges against Wong date back to a March 13, 2016, meeting between Wong and a woman identified in court records as Samantha Luu (a pseudonym). Luu alleges she drove from Houston to meet with Wong at a private party at Perry’s Steakhouse in Austin. In an affidavit reviewed by Adweek, Luu recalled feeling “disoriented, dizzy and physically impaired” after drinking half a glass of wine.
Luu states in the court documents that she doesn’t remember leaving the restaurant or going back to Wong’s hotel but recalls Wong pushing her onto a bed and removing her clothing. She alleges that Wong then raped her. She said she told him repeatedly to “please stop” before yelling for help. Luu told officials that she passed out from exhaustion before waking up hours later naked in bed with Wong, and that he sexually assaulted her again. According to the affidavit, she later left the hotel and drove back to Houston, where she filed a police report with Rice University police.
Bassett alleges Wong and his accuser first met on Tinder in San Francisco and had a date that included consensual sexual activity. “She later travelled to Austin to visit Mr. Wong and to stay at his hotel. They again engaged in consensual sexual activity and spent the night together,” he said. “It was after this second date that she falsely complained of this activity being nonconsensual. The evidence will show that Mr. Wong acted appropriately at all times, and we look forward to his vindication.”
A Kiip spokesperson said the company is aware of the allegations. However, the company deferred comment on the specifics of the allegations to Wong and his attorneys.
“The Kiip Board asked Brian to take an indefinite leave of absence on Feb. 26, and that leave of absence remains,” according to a statement from Kiip sent to Adweek. “That being said, Kiip is committed to maintaining a positive, safe and respectful work environment in which every individual is treated with respect and dignity. We expect every employee—including our CEO—to adhere to our codes of conduct.”
According to court documents, police had suspended their investigation into the case because Luu was unable to participate. However, officials reopened the case last May after Luu contacted authorities again and in July provided a statement to police. An arrest warrant for Wong was filed in January.
According to the Travis County Sheriff’s office, Wong was booked into Travis County Jail on March 15 with his attorney present and released the same day after posting bond, which had previously been set at $30,000.
Geoffrey Puryear, Travis County’s assistant district attorney and the prosecutor named in court documents, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. However, according to the Travis County District Clerk’s Office, Wong is scheduled to appear in court on March 29.
While Wong, now 27, has been a part of the company he co-founded since he was 19, Lapp comes to Kiip after 20 years in digital advertising. Prior to joining Kiip, Lapp was chief growth officer at Kantar, which WPP announced on Monday will be consolidated under a single brand on April 2.
“I’ve known Jason for some time and have watched his great work at Kantar very closely,” Lars Leckie, managing director at Hummer Winblad and a Kiip board member, said in a statement. “We’ve been in touch about having Jason join the board and working together on Kiip for months. Jason is well familiar with our business and excited about the potential from his interactions with the company and our clients and partners. We’re delighted to have him leading Kiip.”