Category Archives: Technology

CFO of Space Infrastructure company resigns

Erik Sallee, the CFO of Intuitive Machines (‘LUNR’), has resigned for personal reasons. Steven Vontur, the current Controller, will serve as the interim CFO while the company conducts a search for a permanent CFO.



LUNR is based in Clear Lake, near NASA and is developing products for space exploration. The company was taken public by a SPAC in February 2023.

Mr. Sallee is based in California and the company said he was pursuing other business opportunities in that state. Before joining IM, he was the Corporate Controller for Blue Origin. Prior to that he worked for Raytheon.

The company’s first launch is scheduled for mid-February with the spacecraft landing on the moon about a week after launch. A competing private company, Astrobotic, is set to make its first launch on January 8. Its craft takes a more indirect route to the moon, so both may land around the same time. Both missions are related to NASA’s Artemis program, which intends to put astronauts back on the moon.

LUNR’s stock has a wild ride since going public. It began trading at $10, rose to $136 later that month before crashing back down to $12 in March 2023, despite no news from the company. The stock currently trades at $2.53.

Revenues miss projections

In its investor presentation as part of going public, the company projected its revenue would be $291 million in 2023 and $759 million in 2024. In its latest quarterly report, revenues for the nine months to September 2023 were $49 million. All three of its main contracts were loss-making, with total cost of sales of $71 million for the same period.

At the end of September 2023, the company had backlog of $135 million. That doesn’t include anything from NASA OMES 3 space orbital program. The contract, which began in late 2023, is projected to be worth $719 million over five years and has been awarded to the joint venture LUNR has with KBR.

Nauticus Robotics, another nearby company with strong connections to NASA is also looking for a new CFO.

SEC filing 8-K – Intuitive Machines CFO

 

 

Marie Myers appointed CFO at Hewlett Packard Enterprises

Marie Myers has been appointed CFO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (‘HPE’). She replaces Tarek Robbiati, who resigned in August to become the CEO at RingCentral. Ms. Myers joins the company from HP Inc where she was CFO. Interim CFO Jeremy Cox will revert back to his previous role of Corporate Controller.



HP and HPE were part of the same company until they split in 2015. HP (market cap $31 billion) concentrates on consumer products and printers, whereas HPE (market cap $21 billion) focuses on enterprise-facing hardware and cloud business.

Ms. Myers is a native of Australia and started her career with the Department of Trade and Industry and Treasury. She moved to Houston to finish her MBA and then joined Compaq (acquired by HP in 2002). She left HP in 2018 to become the CFO at UiPath, a robotic process automation company, before rejoining just over a year later. Ms. Myers was appointed CFO of HP in 2021.

At HP, Ms. Myers had a base salary of $780,000. At HPE, she will have a salary of $850,000 (same base as Mr. Robbiati). She will also receive a cash sign-on bonus of $1 million (paid half now, half in 12 months).

SEC filing 8-k HPE CFO appointment

Subsea Robotics company terminates contract of CFO

Nauticus Robotics has terminated the contracts of CFO Rangan Padmanabhan and Chief Legal and Administrative Officer Dilshad Kasmani. The company did not give a reason, but they did say it was not for cause, meaning the two men will be entitled to severance.

Nauticus, based in Webster, was taken public by a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation) in September 2022. The company is developing tetherless, autonomous electric-powered robots that can be controlled by staff onshore.

As with many SPACs, the share price has plunged since going public at $10 per share. It now trades at $1.10.

The company is in the process of acquiring 3D at Depth, a subsea laser LiDAR inspection and data services company for $34 million in stock.

Victoria Hay has been appointed interim CFO. She will receive cash compensation of $30,000 a month and was also granted 40,000 restricted stock units that will vest on the earlier of her termination or one year from the date of grant. Mrs. Hay has been provided consulting services since the start of the year. She spent 13 years in various roles at Weatherford International, mostly recently as Senior Director – Global Accounting and Reporting Services.

Mr. Padmanabhan was appointed CFO in May 2022. He spent many years at Solaris Asset Management and is a graduate of Rice University. Neither his salary nor his severance package has yet been disclosed publicly.

SEC filing – Nauticus CFO termination

CFO of HPE resigns to take CEO job at RingCentral

Tarek Robbiati, CFO of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (‘HPE’), is leaving to become CEO of RingCentral, with effect from August 25. Jeremy Cox, Corporate Controller & Chief Tax Officer, has been appointed interim CFO while the company conducts a search for a permanent replacement.



RingCentral is based in Silicon Valley, which is where HPE had its headquarters until it moved to Spring, TX in 2020. RingCentral has a market cap of $3.7 billion, compared to HPE’s $22 billion. The company provides enterprise cloud communications, collaboration and contact center solutions, primarily through subscription services.

RingCentral CEO Vlad Shmunis founded the company in 1999 and is transitioning to Executive Chairman. To make run for Mr. Robbiati, Mo Katibeh, COO for the past 18 months, is leaving the company.

Mr. Robbiati became a non-executive director of RingCentral in January of this year.

Diverse Background

Mr. Robbiati was appointed CFO of HPE in August 2018. He holds both Italian and Lebanese citizenship and is fluent in six languages. He has a degree in Nuclear Physics and Electronics from Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Ingénieurs, Caen, France and an MBA from the London Business School.

Mr. Robbiati started his career as an R&D Engineer for Schlumberger in France but has mostly worked in Telecoms in UK, Australia and Hong Kong. He was CEO of FlexiGroup, an Australian financial services group, before becoming the CFO of Sprint in 2015.

Conventional Background

Mr. Cox has been with HPE or its predecessors since 2008 and has a more orthodox background. He has a degree from Texas Tech. Most of his experience has been in Tax. He was promoted to Corporate Controller a year ago.

SEC filing – 8-K Robbiati resignation

Two Houston companies taken public by SPACs

Verde Clean Fuels, a Houston-based company that aims to supply gasoline derived from renewable feedstocks, has been taken public by CENAQ Energy Corp, a SPAC also based in Houston.



Verde owns proprietary technology that is designed to produce gasoline from waste feedstocks (e.g. food waste, paper, grass, leaves and other greenwaste) that are otherwise landfilled. It has a demonstration facility in New Jersey. The company is conducting front-end engineering design for its first commercial facility near Phoenix, Arizona. It expects to spend $130 million in capex and complete the plant in the second half of 2024. Further plants are planned in Bakersfield, CA and Odessa, TX

The transaction values Verde at an enterprise value of $250 million or 1.8 times projected 2025 EBITDA and leaves $220 million of cash on the balance sheet to fund the initial capex and operating losses.

CEO Ernie Miller has been with the Verde (or its predecessors) since 2017. He initially joined as CFO and Chief Commercial Officer. Prior to that, he spent 12 years as CFO at Rodeo Resources, an E&P and midstream company. Prior to that, he spent 5 years at Calpine, organizing financing for cogeneration power plants.

The company is conducting a search for a Chief Financial Officer.

The stock (ticker VGAS) is up slightly since it started trading on February 16.]

Verde Clean Fuels – Investor Presentation

Rocket to the Moon

Another Houston company, Intuitive Machines, was also brought to market last week by a SPAC. The company is developing space infrastructure components such as lunar vehicles. The original $815 million deal was announced back in September. After going public at $10 per share on February 14, the stock took off like a proverbial rocket, reaching $46 just two days later. It is currently trading just under $38. The company has not issued any press releases that can account for the run-up in the stock.

Bad news for Good Works

Not such good news last week for Good Works II, a Houston SPAC. Its $723 million deal to take Direct Biologics, an Austin biotech start-up, collapsed. The deal was originally announced in October. No reason was given for the failure.

 

Houston Space Infrastructure company to go public

[Update 2-14-23 – The deal has been completed]

Intuitive Machines (‘IM’), a Houston space infrastructure company, has agreed to be taken public by Inflection Point Acquisition Corp, a Manhattan-based SPAC.

The company is located near NASA and has recently been awarded a number of contracts with NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024.



IM is involved in 4 main segments

  • Lunar landing vehicles
  • Lunar data services
  • Orbital services (e.g. satellite servicing, debris removal)
  • Space infrastructure (power plants, human habitation systems)

IM was founded in 2013 by CEO Stephen Altemus, Kam Ghaffarian and Tim Crain.

  • Mr. Altemus is the former Deputy Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
  • Mr. Ghaffarian is the Chairman of IM and has co-founded a number of space companies, including NASA contractor Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, which was sold to KBR for $355 million in 2018.
  • Dr. Crain is IM’s Chief Technology Officer and worked at NASA for 12 years.
  • CFO Erik Sallee joined in April 2021 and was formerly the Corporate Controller at Blue Origin.

The company expects to have $102 million of revenue this year and has $153 million in backlog for 2023. The big jump is in 2024 when revenues are projected to be $759 million and the business will make a small EBITDA profit.

The transaction values the business at $815 million enterprise value (2.8 x 2023 revenue) and will leave the business with $338 million cash on hand to fund growth.

The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023.

Just last week, Nauticus Robotics, another Houston company with strong NASA connections, was taken public by a SPAC.

Intuitive Machines – Investor Presentation

 

 

 

Nauticus Robotics closes SPAC deal to go public

Nauticus Robotics, a Houston-based marine robotics company, is now a public company. Back in December 2021, it agreed a deal with CleanTech Acquisition Corp, a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation). The deal valued Nauticus at $377 million enterprise value.



The company used to be called Houston Mechatronics. It was founded in 2014 by Nicholaus Radford, who previously worked at NASA and Oceaneering. The company has its head office in Webster, two miles from the NASA Johnson Space Center and employs about 25 former NASA robot engineers.

Currently, manned service vessels are used to service the offshore energy sectors. Nauticus is developing tetherless, autonomous electric-powered robots that can be controlled by staff onshore. The company plans to rent out its Aquanaut robot for around $40,000 a day, less than half the cost of a deepwater rig.

Pre-production units are projected to be deployed in later this year. The company recently sold its first unit to IKM Subsea in Norway.

Investors in the business included Schlumberger (who now own 20%) and Transocean (19%).

Mr. Radford is the CEO. Rangan Padmanabhan was appointed CFO in May 2022. He spent many years at Solaris Asset Management and is a graduate of Rice University.

The company will trade on the NASDAQ under the ticker ‘KITT’.

SEC filing – 8-K

Microvast appoints new CFO

Microvast has appointed board member, Craig Webster, as its new CFO. He replaces Leon Zheng, who has been CFO since 2010.



The company went public via a SPAC in July 2021. It now trades at $5.80 a share ($1.7 billion market cap). Microvast is a leading provider of vehicle battery technology for all types of vehicles. The company claims its batteries have longer range, quicker charging and longer lifespan than its competitors. It had initial success with electric buses, especially in China.  Its products operate in 160 cities in 19 countries.

The company was formed in Houston in 2006 by Yang Wu. Nominally, the company has its headquarters in Stafford where it has a 4,000 sq. ft. office. The main operations have been in Huzhou, China where the company has a manufacturing plant with 1.7 million sq.ft.  Mr. Wu had previously founded a water treatment company in Huzhou that he sold to Dow Chemical in 2006.

Mr. Zheng will stay on in a consulting capacity for 18 months. He will receive a fee of $25,000 a month.

Mr. Webster has served as a director of Microvast since 2012. Between 2005 and 2018, he worked for Ashmore Group, an emerging markets Investment manager. He is a UK citizen and currently resides in New Zealand. Mr. Webster will receive a base salary of $400,000 and will be required to relocate to the US to a region mutually agreeable between him and the company. (According to LinkedIn, CEO Mr. Wu lives in Hawaii, while the company has a new R&D facility in Orlando and a large manufacturing plant in Tennessee).

The company also announced the promotion of Mr. Sasha Rene Kelterborn to President. He will lead the day-to-day operations of the company. Currently based in Berlin, he will also relocate to the US, to a region mutually agreeable between him and the company.

SEC filing – Microvast CFO

Houston robotics company to be taken public by SPAC

Nauticus Robotics, a Houston-based marine robotics company, is to be taken public by a CleanTech Acquisition Corp, a SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Corporation). The deal values Nauticus at $377 million enterprise value. CleanTech completed its $150 million IPO in July 2021.



Until recently, the company was called Houston Mechatronics. It was founded in 2014 by Nicholaus Radford, who previously worked at NASA and Oceaneering. The company has its head office in Webster, two miles from the NASA Johnson Space Center and employs about 25 former NASA robot engineers . Existing investors in the business include Schlumberger and Transocean. Angie Berka, the Director of Finance and Administration, is also a shareholder.

Currently, manned service vessels are used to service the offshore energy sectors. Nauticus is developing tetherless, autonomous electric-powered robots that can be controlled by staff onshore. The company plans to rent out its Aquanaut robot for $25,000-$50,000 a day, less than half the cost of a deepwater rig.

Nauticus also believes the technology can be used for other industries and applications such as ports (to monitor ship traffic), aquaculture (fish farming), offshore wind and data centers, and defence.

For 2021, the company has revenues of $8 million. This is projected to grow to $90 million in 2023 (4x enterprise value) and $202 million by 2024.

Existing shareholders including Schlumberger and Transocean are rolling over their shares. After the deal closes (expected in the second quarter of 2022) the company will have $222 million of cash on hand. $50 million of this will be used to execute the business plan, the rest will be placed in trust for future growth opportunities, including acquisitions.

SEC filing – 8-K

 

Sports Technology blank check company goes public

Sportsmap Tech Acquisition, a blank check company, has completed its $100 million Initial Public Offering (IPO). The company is based in the Galleria area of Houston.



The business aims to make an acquisition in sports technology such as wearables, data analytics, new methods of fan engagement, and new esports and gambling platforms.

The CEO of the company is David Gow. In 2007, Mr. Gow formed Gow Media, a multi-platform media company that included ESPN Radio Houston and digital content sites such as CultureMap. He was also the CFO and later CEO of Houston-based Ashford.com which went public in 1999. At one point, the company was the largest luxury retailer online. Prior to that, Mr. Gow was the Director of Corporate Strategy at Compaq.

A couple of names well known to Houston sports fans are also Directors;

  • Reid Ryan, former President of the Houston Astros. He is the son of Nolan Ryan.
  • Oliver Luck, former General Manager of the Houston Dynamo and former CEO of the Houston Sports Authority.  He is the father of Andrew Luck, the number one draft pick in 2012.

Jacob Swain serves as the CFO. Between March and November 2019, he was the CFO and Chief Technology Officer at Bellatorum Resources, a mineral rights investment firm that later shut down due to fraud. Prior to that, he worked at BBB Tank Services between 2009 and 2016, first as CFO, later as CEO.

S-1 filing – Sportsmap Tech Acquisition

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20211018006029/en/SportsMap-Tech-Acquisition-Corp.-Announces-Pricing-of-100000000-Initial-Public-Offering