REPORT: Failed tech unicorn Powa broken up and sold

Powa was one of the UK’s few tech ‘unicorns’ — a business valued at over $1 billion. Flickr/bptakoma

Sky News is reporting that Deloitte has found buyers for two divisions of Powa Technologies, the London-based payments company that collapsed into administration two weeks ago.

Powa has three main business lines:

  • PowaWeb, which built online shops for retailers.
  • PowaPOS, formerly known as mPowa, which built a mobile card reader to rival the likes of Square.
  • PowaTag, an app that would let consumers buy things by scanning QR code, print adverts, and audio of TV ads.

Sky is reporting on Thursday morning that PowaTag will be sold to a consortium led by businessman Ben White and PowaWeb has been sold in a management buyout led by Andy Muldoon and backed by Greenlight Digital, a UK-based digital group. It’s not clear what is happening to PowaPOS.

The deals will save around 70 jobs, according to Sky, but that still leaves over 160 staff with uncertain futures. Powa employed 311 people before going under and Deloitte made 74 staff redundant shortly after taking charge.

Deloitte declined to comment.

Powa was once valued at $2.7 billion (£1.8 billion) and has raising at least $225 million (£160 million) in debt and equity since 2013.

However, problems emerged early last month after the company struggled to pay employees and contracts on time. Subsequent company filings showed the company had just $250,000 (£177,700) in the bank at the start of February and debts of $16.4 million (£11.6 million).

Powa’s CEO and founder Dan Wagner told staff that the company was “basically pre-revenue,” according to a recent video seen by the Financial Times. Business Insider reported that most of the 1,200 partners Powa claimed to have signed up to its payments app had simply expressed interest in the technology and not signed any contracts or agreements.

Deloitte was called in as administrators at the end of February after Powa’s biggest investor, US-based Wellington Management, called in loans to the company. Wellington made a subsequent loan to Powa once Deloitte took over to keep the business ticking over.

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