Trevor Milton is the founder and former chairman of Nikola, famous for zero-emissions hydrogen-powered truck concepts. He resigned as chairman in September 2020 amid fraud allegations and an investigation by the SEC.
GM was involved with the company until the revelation that videos of Nikola's prototype trucks were rolling down a hill and not genuinely functional. Nikola's response? They never stated the truck was driving under its own propulsion.
The charges against Milton—brought against him by a federal grand jury—allege he lied, targeting investors with false claims about the company's product so he could boost the stock price.
Turning this into a story, what if a tech founder grows his company before the tech exists but has a plan for figuring it out? More specifically, a genius scientist brother in the background, hidden from the public because of crippling anxiety (or something more intense, like schizophrenia).
The story could start similarly to the Nikola saga. Plans for revolutionary technology generate buzz that secures funding.
The plan? The funding pays for the lab. Then, with the required research technology, they hope the brother can solve the problem and make the concept work.
High-level backers get wind that the product doesn't exist yet and pull out. The government opens up an investigation, then levels charges against the founder for fraud, all while the scientist in the background develops a working prototype.
The story could highlight the various technical challenges to developing the revolutionary technology from the hidden scientist's perspective and shine a light on mental illness.
The story from the founders' perspective would dive into the bond between two brothers and the founder's deep belief in his brother's abilities.
The battle is the trial. When the charges are read aloud, the scientist overcomes his anxiety and speaks up in the courtroom, saying that the technology now exists and displaying working prototypes.