British investor Richard Thompson, former chairman of the Queens Park Rangers Football Club, has agreed to acquire London-based mobile payments startup unicorn Powa Technologies, within hours after the business collapsed into administration, a procedure under UK insolvency laws analogous to Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S.
OUT OF ‘POWA’
Powa Technologies, once valued at $2.7 billion (£1.8 billion) and a darling of the UK tech scene, has appointed Deloitte to oversee a sale of the London-based business as a going concern, on Feb. 19. Powa employs 311 people globally, said Deloitte.
“Powa is an exciting business driven an extraordinary entrepreneur with great vision,” said Thompson. “PowaTag in particular is extremely exciting and I have great faith in the future of the business and its experienced and talented management team. I am looking forward to building on the momentum that they have created over the last two years.”
Powa chairman and CEO Dan Wagner commented, “we have found in Richard a committed investor who is working with the senior management team and understands the needs of the current business.”
Powa had previously raised $156 million in a series A and C round from Boston-based Wellington Management, and a $20.7 million Series B round from undisclosed investors. The company had also partnered with leading brands such as Adidas and L’Oréal. However, the startup is still a “pre-revenue” company, Wagner acknowledged.
It is unclear what the entrepreneur offered for the business via his Thompson Investments vehicle but he has a record of paying nominal sums for companies and selling them on quickly for a tidy profit, said The Times. He has owned the Jaeger and Viyella high street fashion chains and the Windsor racecourse in the past.
“Having just been appointed, we are currently assessing the company’s position and our options. These will center around seeking to sell the constituent businesses as going concerns,” Nick Edwards, joint administrator and partner in Deloitte’s restructuring services practice, said. “We will be working closely with existing management to identify potential purchasers, and keeping staff and other key stakeholders informed of next steps as they become clearer.”
The company had only $250,000 (£175,200) in the bank at the start of February and debts of $16.4 million (£11.5 million), according to Business Insider. That’s despite $50 million of investment in 2015 and a loan from its biggest investor, Wellington Management, as recently as November.
Powa Technologies Ltd is an international commerce specialist focusing on technologies to transform and redefine the retail market. The company was founded in 2007 by entrepreneur and e-commerce veteran Dan Wagner, founder of online information database Dialog, and Venda Ltd – the world’s largest SaaS provider of on-demand eCommerce. His vision is to create a seamless experience across all purchase channels in an always-connected digital landscape where consumers are constantly on the move. The Powa suite includes PowaWeb – a powerful cloud-based eCommerce platform, PowaPOS – a sophisticated mobile and tablet-based POS solution, and PowaTag – an innovative payment enablement application signed up with over 1,100 brands. These Powa solutions bring a richer engagement with consumers for the merchant, both online and offline, whilst also providing the consumer with a vastly improved shopping experience.
Following the June 2014 acquisition of Hong-Kong-based mobile payment experts MPayMe, developer of payment enablement application Znap, its integration with PowaTag allowed for enhanced functionality, granting payment solutions for the telecoms and utility industries as well as expanding Powa’s global reach. The company’s “global headquarters occupies over 20,000 square feet of London’s state-of-the-art Heron Tower.” Powa opened international offices “across the globe” including “the 39th floor of the exclusive 1 Bryant Park address in New York City, in addition to locations in Atlanta, Paris, Madrid, Hong Kong, Toronto, Amsterdam, Hamburg, San Diego, Miami, Milan, Stockholm, Singapore and Beijing.” boasts the company.