1:57 pm - 02/11/2013

The woman who photo-shopped her way into Silicon Valley elite

A wannabe Silicon Valley socialite and businesswoman hoodwinked her way into the upper echelons of the tech elite by photo-shopping herself into pictures with celebrities and making up job titles that she never held.

Shirley Hornstein, who describes herself as an 'Angel Investor and (dare I say) Entrepreneur' posted doctored pictures of herself with Justin Timberlake and comedian Andy Samberg, claiming to have met them at parties across San Francisco.

So successful was her self promotion and name dropping, that Hornstein even managed to score herself a top-40 placing on a list of the most influential women investing in technology in Silicon Valley, which was republished in Forbes.

Mixing with Hollywood geek heroes such as Avengers director Joss Whedon and Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Eliza Dushku, Hornstein's social chameleon act was exposed when she began to boast of working for Silicon Valley guru and Napster creator Sean Parker.

Sean Parker's Founders Fund took legal action against the would-be tech investor to stop her from ever claiming that she worked for them according to Gawker.Com.

'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,' read the legal filing.

'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.'

Her false claims were discovered through a blog posting she made on the Women 2.0 site where Hornstein says she 'has experience working with a number of Silicon Valley companies, including iMeem, Nitro PDF, Dropbox, and Founders Fund.'

The post has since been taken down.

The complaint also states, 'On September 16, 2011, Ms. Hornstein again claimed employment at Founders Fund in an electronic communication to a major entrepreneurial networking company. That representation was likewise false.'

Tech Crunch, which revealed the duplicitous boasts of Hornstein outlined how she operated after investigating her various claims.

Anecdotes on Hornstein all began with name dropping and invariably led to her getting introductions to those involved at the very highest levels of Silicon Valley start ups and established firms.

Promising introductions that never materialized, Hornstein would eventually be caught out, allegedly harming the reputations of those who trusted her.

One commenter at the Hacker News forum offered this as evidence of what meeting Hornstein entailed.

'I've meet Shirley a handful of times, through mutual friends and founders here in SF,' said the posting.

'Every time we hung-out, she would tell elaborate stories of meeting so and so, or being friends with Sean Parker, or Justin Timberlake. Almost immediately, the first time I meet her, I was super skeptical; always felt like something was really off with her.

'She mentioned she knew the founders at Dropbox, and even said that she had stock in Dropbox and sold it, and made quite a nice sum of money. Again, all the while I was super skeptical.'

Last week, however, Hornstein apologized for her actions on her blog - and promised to change her behavior.

'In short, my house of cards collapsed. After TechCrunch outed me as a liar and (ab)user of photoshop, I was subjected to the humiliation and judgement from people I have never met and probably never will.

'More articles surfaced, and my entire credibility was essentially erased. I lost my job. My friends. My life came crashing done on me. I was devastated, confused and ashamed of myself.

'Deep down I knew this would happen eventually because you can’t build your life based on lies, but what did I do to stop it? I told more lies, created more elaborate stories, abused trust that been given to me and pretended that everything was going to be okay.

'Fake it ‘til you make it, right? I was so lost.'


I thought I'd share because the 'shops are so bad lmao. Have any of you lied to get a job? Share your stories!
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wonderwomanhero 11th-Feb-2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
This bitch...
yummyhead2toe 11th-Feb-2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
Gurl, it's 2013. You're lucky if secrets stay hidden for a week.
joliefoliepolie 11th-Feb-2013 07:09 pm (UTC)
I know, right?
andthenwevomit 11th-Feb-2013 07:22 pm (UTC)
beatlesluv 11th-Feb-2013 08:19 pm (UTC)
muzicnem 11th-Feb-2013 08:47 pm (UTC)
Srsly, it's hard enough faking sick and calling into work w/ FB and all.
heroicattempt 11th-Feb-2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
Right?? I have to fake ill on FB and get calls from my worried mother when I skip work.
epic_cakes 12th-Feb-2013 06:44 am (UTC)
Some girl at work called in sick two days in a row and then posted to Facebook about the AWSUM time she was having at the st kilda festival. But nobody will call her out for it because she's best friends with the manager and the 2IC.
brenden 11th-Feb-2013 07:01 pm (UTC)
i hate name droppers. self inflated egos are the worst.
dubiously 11th-Feb-2013 09:44 pm (UTC)
I work with one of those people. The best was when she said to me, "celebrities are just like normal people, you know. They're just like us!" lol
empirebird 11th-Feb-2013 07:02 pm (UTC)

but... it's so OBVIOUSLY photoshoped. It's not even GOOD photoshop WTF
lex_works 11th-Feb-2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
lol mte. Her head is too big in the JT one for starters.
foureyedgirl 11th-Feb-2013 07:24 pm (UTC)
mrsdracula 11th-Feb-2013 07:49 pm (UTC)
yeah, I'm sf confused
aprilbegins 11th-Feb-2013 10:33 pm (UTC)
addicteddisplay 19th-Feb-2013 11:15 pm (UTC)
Especially in Silicon Valley, ffs.
stephaniebrown 11th-Feb-2013 07:02 pm (UTC)
lmao damn those aren't even very good.
jjj 11th-Feb-2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
ngl i have lied about my job experience but these days u kind of have to
duchello 12th-Feb-2013 04:25 am (UTC)
man thats fucked up of them
superchocobear 12th-Feb-2013 07:57 am (UTC)
lol that was a really dumb thing for your friend to do. like, if they'd asked super nicely/begged I might do it.
_scarlett_icons 11th-Feb-2013 07:17 pm (UTC)
I've lied too, but not to this extent, lol.

Edited at 2013-02-11 07:17 pm (UTC)
_myaugust 11th-Feb-2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't say I lie but exaggerate how awesome certain jobs were when they really actually sucked.
goldoyster 11th-Feb-2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
there's exaggerating and then there's photoshopping and getting the lies published in Forbes.
shadowpiranha 11th-Feb-2013 07:52 pm (UTC)
I mean I've lied because over here they don't hire you if you're inexperienced but obviously you need to be hired to gain experience, but this is a whole other level.
redleigh86 11th-Feb-2013 08:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've worked at a few places where I know their policy is to only confirm whether or not someone worked for them and not to elaborate, whether good or bad, and for those places I did exaggerate a bit on my duties because I knew I'd be safe lol But it's so hard to find a job, to stand out. The jobs I'm applying too, I have the same education and experience as every other applicant, and the longer I'm unemployed and the more time passes since I graduated, the harder it is to differentiate myself. It really blows.
duchello 12th-Feb-2013 04:24 am (UTC)
I don't understand how people can do this, I get so paranoid if I even get the month of employment wrong
kissoffools 11th-Feb-2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
I can't stop laughing at this.
judgmental 11th-Feb-2013 07:03 pm (UTC)
How are people so DUMB. These clearly look photoshoped jfc.
wonderwomanhero 11th-Feb-2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
according to her twitter she's republican

it all makes sense now...
karis_azura 11th-Feb-2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
UGH, she would be..
die2nitelive4ev 11th-Feb-2013 07:04 pm (UTC)
Broadcasters I work with always pretend they've met celebs when all these had is a rejection call/letter from their press people.

I never lie I just hide the truth. so I say 'I work for an English radio station' and dont mention the community bit. If someone says what stations I'll tell the truth.
ritzyroxie 11th-Feb-2013 07:04 pm (UTC)
(ab)user of photoshop

She's got that right.

Edited at 2013-02-11 07:04 pm (UTC)
foureyedgirl 11th-Feb-2013 07:32 pm (UTC)
this one is like the worst..I mean seriously who the fuck was she fooling with this??
hoot 11th-Feb-2013 07:46 pm (UTC)
Guuurl learn to use the curves tool.
beatlesluv 11th-Feb-2013 08:21 pm (UTC)
What kind of flop job?!
muzicnem 11th-Feb-2013 08:49 pm (UTC)
She looks like Kate Middleton.
chidarkcy 11th-Feb-2013 09:14 pm (UTC)
hahahahahaha deaddddddd @ her hair 'blending' with his arm hahahahahaha
threeatatimejay 12th-Feb-2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
brucelynn 11th-Feb-2013 07:04 pm (UTC)

judgmental 11th-Feb-2013 07:22 pm (UTC)
mte lala
mementox 11th-Feb-2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
I will never tire of this gif. ~never change~
marielaurie 11th-Feb-2013 07:04 pm (UTC)
lol omg
magicpebble 11th-Feb-2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
Wow this is desperate and pathetic. You just can't outright lie about stuff like this anymore, because someone WILL find out.
lidahbidah 11th-Feb-2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
Lmao! People are crazy and scare me.
bluebandit77 11th-Feb-2013 07:13 pm (UTC)
mutterby 11th-Feb-2013 07:05 pm (UTC)
i think everyone lies to some extent on their cv or in interviews. i altered my grades on my cv *shrug*
pretty_hostel 11th-Feb-2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
at the beginning you kind of have to. I listed my sister as a former landlord when i applied for my first apartment, meh.
distant_lines 11th-Feb-2013 07:19 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. I have two jobs listed that are false, like working at my mom's spa, but since she's the contact, it's not like it will ever get denied.
mutterby 11th-Feb-2013 07:21 pm (UTC)
yup, exactly my case. I didn't do too well in school but I did well in university. I worked hard to get my degree and I worked hard on producing a kick ass portfolio, my low school grades i saw as an unnecessary stain on my cv, and might have been holding me back from getting my foot in the door.
frenchverbs 11th-Feb-2013 07:26 pm (UTC)
I listed my therapist as a reference for a job I applied for in college. I really had absolutely no one else to ask besides her and a former employer, and she was happy to oblige because she knew I needed the job badly.
venus_orbiting 11th-Feb-2013 07:48 pm (UTC)
I've always been afraid to do this, like the new landlord is going to look the person up in some sort of Huge Official Database of All Landlords Ever (tm) or something.
amore 11th-Feb-2013 07:23 pm (UTC)
that works until they ask for your transcripts
frenchverbs 11th-Feb-2013 07:27 pm (UTC)
You list your grades on your CV? I just list my education and dates of graduation or anticipated graduation. I would only list anything grade-related if I graduated with Latin honors.
_scarlett_icons 11th-Feb-2013 07:30 pm (UTC)
I have an aunt who has her own company, so I lie and say I worked as a marketing director for her (she's also written me reference letters, so it's all good).

I work at this one job only one day a week, and the owner said I could lie and say I work at least 4 days as a part time manager if I wanted to.

So... as long as you can tie up all the ends, I don't see the problem.

curious_maya 11th-Feb-2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
I swear I went back to school to get my graduate degree just so that I wouldn't have to put my undergrad GPA on my resume.
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