- Buzzy British augmented-reality startup Blippar has collapsed into administration.
- It became insolvent after Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional blocked an emergency cash injection from another shareholder, property tycoon Nick Candy.
- It’s a dramatic fall from grace for the much-hyped augmented-reality startup, which three years ago said it was worth $US1.5 billion.
Blippar, the much-hyped British AR startup which once said it was worth $US1.5 billion, has collapsed into administration.
Corporate insolvency firm David Rubin & Partners announced on Monday that it has been appointed as the firm’s joint administrators – the equivalent of bankruptcy – following an investor dispute.
Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional this month blocked an emergency cash injection from another shareholder, property tycoon Nick Candy. The disagreement stands in the way of Blippar raising the finances it needs to survive.
In a statement, joint administrator Paul Appleton said:
“Paul Appleton and Paul Cooper of David Rubin & Partners were appointed as joint administrators of Blippar.com Limited on 17 December 2018. They are managing the affairs, business and property of the Company.
“The appointment of administrators has arisen effectively as a result of an alleged dispute over continued funding. Following their appointment, the administrators are now exploring all possible options for the future of the business for the benefit of all Stakeholders.”
Falling into administration – similar to corporate bankruptcy in the US – represents a dramatic fall from grace for the British startup, once touted as a unicorn. Cofounder and CEO Ambarish Mitra told the Financial Times in 2015 that after turning down an acquisition offer the company was worth $US1.5 billion.
A source told Business Insider last week that Mitra held a crisis meeting, but that he was too emotional to finish his speech to staff. A source said Mitra had to hand over to the firm’s new chief operating officer, Libby Penn, to finish.
Employees were said to be nervous they aren’t going to be paid before Christmas and angry at how little they have been told. Blippar’s latest company accounts, dated March 2017, show that the firm employed 261 staff members across its UK, US, Singapore, and New Delhi offices. LinkedIn data indicates the current figure is closer to 125.
Former employees expressed doubts about the company’s financial stability to Business Insider in April, saying the company had burned through millions of dollars’ worth of cash.
Blippar was founded in the UK in 2011 by Mitra, Omar Tayeb, Jessica Butcher, and Steve Spencer, and is best known for its augmented-reality app that identifies real-world objects.
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