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Schiermeyer vs. Thurston: Gala Games Most Ferocious PvP Thus Far

Theft, treason, offshore companies, firearms, hostage situations, character assassination, private jets, scheming - Gala Games CEO and the company’s director have taken years of private quarrels to court.

Gala Games Founders clash

Fortitude, Spider Tanks, Champions Arena. Player versus Player (PvP) games have made Gala Games one of the top 10 GameFi crypto projects.

But as the company’s CEO and the company’s director launch the first strikes in what will likely be a ferocious and prolonged legal battle, this real-world PvP is already hurting the game ecosystem.

The price of the $GALA token has been falling since both of its creators, Eric Schiermeyer and Wright Thurston, filed suits against each other in a Utah District court last Thursday.

Schiermeyer made a name for himself as co-founder of Zynga, the game development studio behind the widely popular Facebook game Farmville. In 2018, he decided to jump into Web3 gaming by founding Gala Games with wife-cuddler and church volunteer entrepreneur Wright Thurston.

At the same time that their vision materialised in one of the most relevant Web3 onboarding ramps, their partnership was crumbling.

The father of Farmville now accuses Thurston of, in 2021, transferring $130 million, equivalent at the time to 20% of the total GALA minted, to his private accounts.

As the amount corresponded to more than 100% of the tokens in active circulation at the time, these transfers effectively “held the company hostage”, by making the team afraid that the entrepreneur would dump the tokens on the market, leading its price to crash.

Thurston held on to the tokens for a year, after which he “began quietly moving the stolen Gala.” Disregarding Schiermeyer’s pleas and demands to stop he continued, claiming to be “selling some of the Gala tokens to purchase ammunition for firearms”.

The lawsuit now explains that the v2 $Gala tokens airdrop was in part an “engineering solution” to stop Thurston's actions - the new tokens were not airdropped in his wallets, leaving him with obsolete v1 $Gala tokens.

The airdrop was part of the ecosystem's Ethereum contract update that happened last May and also included the burn of $600 million worth of Gala tokens.

Thurston claims that Schiermeyer carried out the burning event without the consent of the board, calling it a “waste of millions of dollars” that resulted in the centralization of control in the CEO’s hands.

For the past year, according to Thurston’s lawsuit, he, as well as all the other minority shareholders, have been cut out of the decision-making at Gala, giving room for his fellow co-founder to loan himself company funds, capriciously give tokens away, and keep a private jet for personal travels against the board’s decision to sell it off.

Schiermeyer is also accused of secretly forming companies abroad to pursue and consequently reap the rewards of projects that would normally be part of the Gala Games portfolio. The company’s CEO allegedly made himself the majority shareholder of a Swiss company that owns Gala Music - one of the three entertainment pillars of the ecosystem together with Games and Film.

Both defendants claim to be pressing charges on behalf of Gala Games. As for the plaintiffs, Schiermeyer will have to defend himself as an individual, while Thurston can act through his company, True North United Investments, which has over 40% of the shares of Gala.

By deciding to release the full version of the three-year soap opera going on behind closed doors, Schiermeyer and Thurston have made the ecosystem they co-founded the greatest loser.

In the long legal battle ahead, more than the price of the token, Gala risks losing the trust of its community and its reputation as an ecosystem built to “empower gamers through ownership and blockchain technology.”