Helbiz, a shared electric scooter and bicycle supplier that operates in the US and Europe, has failed to pay its US-based employees for the past week, The edge has learned. In an email to employees, the company’s CEO blamed “a flaw in our payroll system” and promised each employee a $100 bonus to make up for the snafu.
“I personally apologize for this error and I hope you know it does not reflect my understanding of the value you all bring to the success of this company,” Helbiz CEO Salvatore Palella said in the email. which was obtained by The edge†
In an email, communications chief Matt Rosenberg confirmed the missed payroll, adding that it only affected the company’s US-based employees. Helbiz employees in other offices were paid on time, he wrote.
“On payroll, there was an update in our payroll system and it slowed us down to meet this cycle. Unfortunately, because it happened before the weekend, it will take a few days to rectify and our employees will be paid this week,” Rosenberg said. “We regret that this has happened and are working with staff who may need further assistance.”
Helbiz went public last year by merging with a special acquisition company, or SPAC, apparently in hopes of raising enough money to expand into other services. After the merger, Helbiz said the valuation was $408 million, but the company’s stock has since fallen and its market cap is now about $92.7 million.
Helbiz has also encountered other hurdles. The company’s full 2021 earnings report, as well as that year’s fourth quarter report, has been delayed to mid-April 2022, which is long after most publicly traded companies released their own earnings reports. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requires annual reports to be released no later than 60 days after the end of the fiscal year.
“We were unable to get the necessary data from any of our third parties in time to complete our audit, so we requested an extension,” Rosenberg said. He also denied any connection between the missed payroll and the delayed earnings report.
The company is best known as a micromobility operator. But since the SPAC merger, Helbiz has tried to expand into other offerings, including haunted kitchens and media streaming. Last year, the company launched Helbiz Media, a new streaming service, with a deal with Fox Networks Group to become the exclusive distributor of the Italian Serie B football championship in the US and the Caribbean. The news sent Helbiz’s share price up 97 percent before eventually falling to its current price of about $3 a share.
There have also been other questionable moves. Palella, the CEO of Helbiz, was sued last year by a group of investors who claimed they had been scammed by purchasing the HelbizCoin cryptocurrency as part of a “pump and dump” scheme.
Prosecutors said Helbiz promised to use the proceeds from its first cryptocurrency offering, announced in 2018, to develop a platform that would allow users to rent bicycles, cars, scooters and flying drone taxis. Instead, Helbiz kept most of the money for himself and, by accepting other forms of currency, has effectively killed his own cryptocurrency, they claim.
Helbiz’s lawyers say the case is “unfounded”, according to… Reuters† The case is still pending in the New York District Court.