Helbiz stock tumbles on reverse split, rebrand to Micromobility.com
Shared micromobility company Helbiz said it will do a reverse stock split in an attempt to get back into compliance with the Nasdaq, which issued a delisting notice last July because Helbiz’s stock was trading too low.
Helbiz is also rebranding to Micromobility.com Inc. in order to position itself as a micromobility brand that offers retail, rentals, shared micromobility and *checks notes* sports streaming services.
The rebrand comes alongside the launch of a new brick-and-mortar retail business, which will include the setting up of physical stores across the U.S., starting with its first store in SoHo, New York City in the next 60 days. There’s also an e-commerce site available today, featuring a small selection of e-scooters, e-bikes, helmets and water bottles.
Due to the name change, Micromobility.com’s stock will start trading under the new ticker symbol MCOM and its warrants under MCOMW starting Friday. Helbiz’s stock price closed Thursday at $0.12, down 4.5%, and then tumbled as much as 20% in after hours trading.
We have a lot of questions, and
Helbiz Micromobility.com didn’t respond to TechCrunch’s requests for answers. Top of mind questions include: How is the company paying for even one brick-and-mortar store with the meager cash it had in the bank at the end of 2022? When does the company think it’ll be back in compliance with the Nasdaq in regards to stock price? Have they addressed the other Nasdaq delisting warning about failure to have an audit committee of at least three independent directors? Do I really have to write out Micromobility.com for every future article about this company?
That question about funding a physical store, and even an e-commerce store, is a real one. As a reminder, Helbiz closed out the year with $429,000 in cash and cash equivalents. The company’s revenue was $15.5 million on top of a $82 million net loss.
It’s not clear what vehicles Helbiz will sell at its physical stores. From a quick peruse of the new website, Micromobility.com is offering up three e-scooter models and three e-bike models as a range of prices. On the scooter side, there’s the HelbizOne, which must be the company’s proprietary e-scooter designed for retail, plus a couple of Okai Neon IIs. The HelbizOne and the Neon II in white are not yet in stock, though. They’re available for pre-order with delivery expected in Q4 2023 and April 30, respectively.
Under its e-bike selection, Micromobility.com offers two models from Noko, an Italian urban e-bike brand with prices in the mid to expensive range, and the Wheels One (which to us is really more of a seated scooter). Per the website, the Wheels One will also be available for long-term subscription rentals for about $130 per month, but as the link to renting now leads to nowhere, it’s not clear if that service is currently active.
Recall that last November Helbiz acquired Wheels Labs, a micromobility company that offers unique seated e-scooters for either shared use or renting. Helbiz said the buy would double its annual revenue and help bring about profitability. Before that, Helbiz acquired Italian shared moped company MiniMoto to capture a sliver of the shared e-moped market. As part of its rebranding, Helbiz said it hopes to position itself as a “micromobility consolidator in view of future M&A transactions.”
The company will continue to offer shared micromobility services across its three brands — Helbiz, Wheels and MiniMoto.
Reverse stock split
“The reverse stock split is primarily intended to bring the Company into compliance with the Nasdaq Capital Market’s minimum bid price requirement and will make the bid price of our Common Stock more attractive to investors,” Salvatore Palella, CEO of now Micromobility.com, said in a statement.
In July, Helbiz received a delisting warning because the Nasdaq requires listed securities to maintain a minimum bid price of $1 per share, and the company had been below that for 30 consecutive trading days.
The reverse stock split will be implemented with a ratio of 1-for-50 shares of common stock, par value $0.00001, according to the company. This means the total number of shares of common stock outstanding will be reduced from 278.5 million to about 5.6 million, and the total number of class B common stock outstanding will be reduced from about 14 million to 284,518. The changes will be in effect when the market opens Friday, the company said.
Micromobility.com said each stockholder’s percentage ownership interest in the company and proportional voting power will remain virtually unchanged, with the exception of minor changes and adjustments from rounding fractional shares into whole shares.
For what it’s worth, Palella is the company’s largest stockholder, with about 37.2% of voting power controlled, according to an SEC filing. In addition, the dual class structure of the company’s common stock concentrate voting power with Palella, which limits an investor’s ability to influence the outcome of important transactions like a change in control. As a result of the way the votes per share are structured, Palella holds about 60% of the voting power of the company’s capital stock, and thus has control over things like the election of directors and any merger or consolidation.
Tesla more than tripled its Austin gigafactory workforce in 2022
Tesla’s 2,500-acre manufacturing hub in Austin, Texas tripled its workforce last year, according to the company’s annual compliance report filed with county officials. Bloomberg first reported on the news.
The report filed with Travis County’s Economic Development Program shows that Tesla increased its Austin workforce from just 3,523 contingent and permanent employees in 2021 to 12,277 by the end of 2022. Bloomberg reports that just over half of Tesla’s workers reside in the county, with the average full-time employee earning a salary of at least $47,147. Outside of Tesla’s factory, the average salary of an Austin worker is $68,060, according to data from ZipRecruiter.
TechCrunch was unable to acquire a copy of the report, so it’s not clear if those workers are all full-time. If they are, Tesla has hired a far cry more full-time employees than it is contracted to do. According to the agreement between Tesla and Travis County, the company is obligated to create 5,001 new full-time jobs over the next four years.
The contract also states that Tesla must invest about $1.1 billion in the county over the next five years. Tesla’s compliance report shows that the automaker last year invested $5.81 billion in Gigafactory Texas, which officially launched a year ago at a “Cyber Rodeo” event. In January, Tesla notified regulators that it plans to invest another $770 million into an expansion of the factory to include a battery cell testing site and cathode and drive unit manufacturing site. With that investment will come more jobs.
Tesla’s choice to move its headquarters to Texas and build a gigafactory there has helped the state lead the nation in job growth. The automaker builds its Model Y crossover there and plans to build its Cybertruck in Texas, as well. Giga Texas will also be a model for sustainable manufacturing, CEO Elon Musk has said. Last year, Tesla completed the first phase of what will become “the largest rooftop solar installation in the world,” according to the report, per Bloomberg. Tesla has begun on the second phase of installation, but already there are reports of being able to see the rooftop from space. The goal is to generate 27 megawatts of power.
Musk has also promised to turn the site into an “ecological paradise,” complete with a boardwalk and a hiking/biking trail that will open to the public. There haven’t been many updates on that front, and locals have been concerned that the site is actually more of an environmental nightmare that has led to noise and water pollution. The site, located at the intersection of State Highway 130 and Harold Green Road, east of Austin, is along the Colorado River and could create a climate catastrophe if the river overflows.
The site of Tesla’s gigafactory has also historically been the home of low-income households and has a large population of Spanish-speaking residents. It’s not clear if the jobs at the factory reflect the demographic population of the community in which it resides.
Launch startup Stoke Space rolls out software tool for complex hardware development
Stoke Space, a company that’s developing a fully reusable rocket, has unveiled a new tool to let hardware companies track the design, testing and integration of parts. The new tool, Fusion, is targeting an unsexy but essential aspect of the hardware workflow.
It’s a solution born out of “ubiquitous pain in the industry,” Stoke CEO Andy Lapsa said in a recent interview. The current parts tracking status quo is marked by cumbersome, balkanized solutions built on piles of paperwork and spreadsheets. Many of the existing tools are not optimized “for boots on the ground,” but for finance or procurement teams, or even the C-suite, Lapsa explained.
In contrast, Fusion is designed to optimize simple inventory transactions and parts organization, and it will continue to track parts through their lifespan: as they are built into larger assemblies and go through testing. In an extreme example, such as hardware failures, Fusion will help teams connect anomalous data to the exact serial numbers of the parts involved.
“If you think about aerospace in general, there’s a need and a desire to be able to understand the part pedigree of every single part number and serial number that’s in an assembly,” Lapsa said. “So not only do you understand the configuration, you understand the history of all of those parts dating back to forever.”
While Lapsa clarified that Fusion is the result of an organic in-house need for better parts management – designing a fully reusable rocket is complicated, after all – turning it into a sell-able product was a decision that the Stoke team made early on. It’s a notable example of a rocket startup generating pathways for revenue while their vehicle is still under development.
Fusion offers particular relevance to startups. Many existing tools are designed for production runs – not the fast-moving research and development environment that many hardware startups find themselves, Lapsa added. In these environments, speed and accuracy are paramount.
Brent Bradbury, Stoke’s head of software, echoed these comments.
“The parts are changing, the people are changing, the processes are changing,” he said. “This lets us capture all that as it happens without a whole lot of extra work.”
Amid a boom in AI accelerators, a UC Berkeley-focused outfit, House Fund, swings open its doors
Companies at the forefront of AI would naturally like to stay at the forefront, so it’s no surprise they want to stay close to smaller startups that are putting some of their newest advancements to work.
Last month, for example, Neo, a startup accelerator founded by Silicon Valley investor Ali Partovi, announced that OpenAI and Microsoft have offered to provide free software and advice to companies in a new track focused on artificial intelligence.
Now, another Bay Area outfit — House Fund, which invests in startups with ties to UC Berkeley — says it is launching an AI accelerator and that, similarly, OpenAI, Microsoft, Databricks, and Google’s Gradient Ventures are offering participating startups free and early access to tech from their companies, along with mentorship from top AI founders and executives at these companies.
We talked with House Fund founder Jeremy Fiance over the weekend to get a bit more color about the program, which will replace a broader-based accelerator program House Fund has run and whose alums include an additive manufacturing software company, Dyndrite, and the managed app development platform Chowbotics, whose most recent round in January brought the company’s total funding to more than $60 million.
For founders interested in learning more, the new AI accelerator program runs for two months, kicking off in early July and ending in early September. Six or so companies will be accepted, with the early application deadline coming up next week on April 13th. (The final application deadline is on June 1.) As for the time commitment involved across those two months, every startup could have a different experience, says Fiance. “We’re there when you need us, and we’re good at staying out of the way.”
There will be the requisite kickoff retreat to spark the program and founders to get to know one another. Candidates who are accepted will also have access to some of UC Berkeley’s renowned AI professors, including Michael Jordan, Ion Stoica, and Trevor Darrell. And they can opt into dinners and events in collaboration with these various constituents.
As for some of the financial dynamics, every startup that goes through the program will receive a $1 million investment on a $10 million post-money SAFE note. Importantly, too, as with the House Fund’s venture dollars, its AI accelerator is seeking startups that have at least one Berkeley-affiliated founder on the co-founding team. That includes alumni, faculty, PhDs, postdocs, staff, students, dropouts, and other affiliates.
There is no demo day. Instead, says Fiance, founders will receive “directed, personal introductions” to the VCs who best fit with their startups.
Given the buzz over AI, the new program could supercharge House Fund, the venture organization, which is already growing fast. Fiance launched it in 2016 with just $6 million and it now manages $300 million in assets, including on behalf of Berkeley Endowment Management Company and the University of California.
At the same time, the competition out there is fierce and growing more so by the day.
Though OpenAI has offered to partner with House Fund, for example, the San Francisco-based company announced its own accelerator back in November. Called Converge, the cohort was to be made up of 10 or so founders who received $1 million each and admission to five weeks of office hours, workshops and other events that ended and that received their funding from the OpenAI Startup Fund.
Y Combinator, the biggest accelerator in the world, is also oozing with AI startups right now, all of them part of a winter class that will be talking directly with investors this week via demo days that are taking place tomorrow, April 5th, and on Thursday.
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