Australian-founded tech giant Appster — that just three years ago catapulted its founders onto the Young Rich List — has collapsed, amid reports that clients have been left out of pocket.
ASIC issued a Notice of Appointment as Liquidator dated Thursday, 6 December 2018.
“Notice is given that at a general meeting of the members of the Company held on 06 December 2018, it was resolved that the Company be wound up and that Paul Vartelas be appointed liquidator(s),” the notice said.
Mr Vartelas works with Melbourne firm B.K. Taylor & Co.
Media reports claimed the collapse had left business clients in the lurch and out of pocket, although it is not clear how many customers may be owed refunds for incomplete work.
It is also not immediately apparent whether the collapse is restricted to Appster’s Melbourne headquarters and Australian business, or also encompasses its global operations; the company has offices in San Francisco and New York in the US as well as New Delhi in India.
Both Appster and Mr Vartelas have been contacted for comment.
‘Sad’ outcome for fast-growth business
Appster had previously worked with Sydney PR and marketing agency Taurus Marketing.
“It is sad to hear the news; we worked with them from the outset, but they stopped working with us about two years ago to take their PR in-house,” the agency’s founder, Sharon Williams, told My Business.
“They were always good to work with, and it was great to support young people on their first entrepreneurial business journey.”
Appster’s founders Mark McDonald and Josiah Humphrey (pictured) featured on the cover of the March 2016 print issue of My Business.
In a lengthy interview, the young founders revealed how they launched the business as teenagers with just $3,000 in savings between them, and that the company was at the time on track to be worth $100 million.
“Our vision is simple: ‘build a development hub for the greatest ideas and innovations in the world’. So, it’s all about helping entrepreneurs take their ideas from concept to reality,” Mr McDonald said at the time.
In 2015, the duo debuted on BRW’s Young Rich List at number 43, with an estimated combined wealth of $58 million. In the same year, News Corp had hailed Appster as being the next Apple.
The company had attracted high-profile backers, with its advisory board comprising the likes of creator of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Cyber Division, Kevin Brock; the founding CFO of PayPal, David Jacques; and a founder of British airline EasyJet, Liz Savage.
Competitor ‘steps in’ to assist
The Australian branch of competing mobile app and software developer Appscore subsequently issued a statement stating that it would step in “to help customers and staff affected by [the] Appster liquidation”.
“It’s never good to see businesses go under, especially when you consider the toll of their staff and clients,” its co-founder and managing director, Alex Louey, said.
“We want to help those affected by this situation, even though our books are full. Our team [is] ready to assist anyone who may have questions about their ongoing services or employment.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.