Helbiz, a provider of shared electric bikes and scooters that operates in the US and Europe, did not pay its employees in the US last week, the edge has learned. In an email to employees, the company’s CEO blamed “an error in our payroll system” and promised each employee a $100 bonus to make up for the problem.
“I personally apologize for this mistake and hope you know it does not reflect my understanding of the value everyone brings 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 company employees in the US. Helbiz employees in other offices were paid on time, he wrote. .
“On payroll, there was an update to our payroll system and it caused a delay in meeting 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,” said Rosenberg. “We’re sorry this happened and we’re working with employees who may need more help.”
Helbiz went public last year by merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, apparently hoping to raise enough money to expand into other services. After the merger, Helbiz said its valuation was $408 million, but the company’s shares have since fallen and its market capitalization is now around $92.7 million.
Helbiz has also run into other obstacles. The company’s full 2021 earnings report, as well as that year’s fourth-quarter report, has been delayed until mid-April 2022, long after most public companies have released their own earnings reports. The US Securities and Exchange Commission mandates that full-year reports be released no later than 60 days after the end of the fiscal year.
“We were unable to obtain the necessary data from one of our third parties in time to complete our audit, so we requested the delay,” Rosenberg said. He also denied any connection between the missing payroll and the delayed earnings report.
The company is primarily known as a micromobility operator. But since its merger with SPAC, Helbiz has tried to expand into other offerings, including ghost kitchens and streaming media. Last year, the company launched Helbiz Media, a new streaming service, with an agreement with Fox Networks Group to be the exclusive distributor of the Italian Serie B soccer championship in the US and the Caribbean. News caused Helbiz’s share price to jump 97 percent before eventually sinking to its current price of around $3 a share.
There have been other questionable moves as well. Palella, the CEO of Helbiz, was sued last year by a group of investors who claimed they were scammed into buying the HelbizCoin cryptocurrency as part of a “pump and dump” scheme.
The plaintiffs said that Helbiz promised to use the proceeds from its initial cryptocurrency offering, which was announced in 2018, to develop a platform that allows users to rent bikes, cars, scooters, and flying drone taxis. Instead, Helbiz kept most of the money and, by accepting other forms of currency, effectively eliminated its own cryptocurrency, they allege.
Helbiz’s lawyers say case “has no merit” according to Reuters. The case is still pending in New York district court.