Inside Registered Agents Inc., the Shadowy Firm Pushing the Limits of Business Privacy

Since 2008, Dan Keen has grown his business from a small company serving customers in the Pacific Northwest to a major national player in what’s known as the corporate formation industry. The company and its competitors offer the ability to incorporate a business in the state of a customer’s choosing and receive mail and legal notices.

Keen started the company after running a tree trimming and landscaping business. Former employees said Keen worked tirelessly to build the business, often sending emails at all hours of the night.

“Dan put in a lot of effort, he worked nonstop,” says Matt MacKenzie, who worked as a legal compliance specialist for more than 11 years and was one of the company’s earliest employees.

When the company was a small upstart, Keen regularly listed his name on the formation documents of the company and its various subsidiaries in states across America. “It wasn’t until down the road a couple years later, where he started wanting to use full-on fake names and take his name off all the corporate paperwork for Registered Agents Inc.,” MacKenzie says.

Keen is described by former employees as a driven but eccentric businessman who is prone to micromanagement and sudden shifts in mood. Keen dresses modestly, former employees say, wearing shorts and flannel shirts, and is an avid skier and outdoorsman.

Keen often took a passive aggressive approach with his staff, according to six former employees. Two recounted Keen begrudgingly offering health care plans to employees after being told it was required by the Affordable Care Act, allegedly telling his staff they were “whiners and complainers” for asking for it.

Multiple former employees described Keen as “inappropriate,” saying he often made comments about employees’ physical appearance. Two former employees described him as making misogynistic statements, which allegedly included making sexual comments about women and frequently questioning their ability to perform their job.

Several former employees questioned the high-security nature of the office, which they say was filled with security cameras and required them to lock their cell phones in boxes. Slyusarev, Registered Agents Inc.’s former senior software engineer, says the phone system, which he says he installed, was capable of surreptitiously recording employee phone calls.

Former employees say that Keen chafed at government regulations and exercised complete control over the company and its operations. Keen has no website or social media profiles and doesn’t give interviews about his business.

“He thinks people are out to get him, or out to get the company,” Evans, the former senior employee, claims.

Details about its inner workings, including the ownership and management structure, are concealed from employees, who say they were discouraged from discussing it at the office. And the practice of using fake personas extends even to Registered Agents Inc.’s own workers.

When Don Evans began interviewing at Registered Agents Inc., he recalled first speaking over LinkedIn with Diane Brunner, who identified herself as a recruiter at the company. When he arrived at the office for an interview, he asked to speak with Brunner and was told nobody by that name works at the company.

Jack Stephenson, who claims to be a vice president and client relations director at Registered Agents Inc. on LinkedIn, is another fake persona, employees say. Stephenson frequently comments on the registered agents industry on LinkedIn. He lists a Bachelor of Business Administration from Utah State University on his profile, but an official from the university told WIRED they couldn’t find any records pertaining to Jack Stephenson.