Nick Greiner. Photo: Michele Mossop
A sports technology firm chaired by former NSW premier Nick Greiner and featuring several high-profile directors and investors has been reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman over unpaid wages owed to several ex-employees.
Private Melbourne company PlayUp, which has already come under from fire from investors for spending $75 million of funds raised from some of Australia's best-known business and sporting identities with no profit to show, has been directed by the ombudsman to enter into payment arrangements with its former staff.
Fairfax Media has seen documentation of the complaints by several former PlayUp employees owed $5000 to $10,000.
PlayUp, via its corporate entity Revo Pty Ltd, has agreed to pay those ex-employees the money over several instalments of about $1000 to $2000 each month for several months.
But Fairfax Media has been told the ex-PlayUp employees did not receive their first instalment at the end of May. PlayUp chief executive George Tomeski denied the company had any financial or cash-flow issues that would preclude it meeting its obligations.
"It has nothing to do with our ability to pay these guys," Mr Tomeski said. "We have been extraordinarily generous to them. They were well paid and we said they would get their full entitlements after they left. The payments are only a few days late and the obligations will be met in the current pay cycle."
PlayUp is a social media technology company that has spent $75 million of funds raised from shareholders since 2007. Its latest accounts for the 2013 financial year show revenue of $4.4 million, $4.078 million of which is listed as an "R&D Tax Incentive".
The company had a loss of $6.18 million for the year after $10.58 million of expenses, including $5.39 million in wages and salaries. That result came after a $12.4 million net loss in 2012, with negative income of about $92,000 after a foreign exchange loss of $920,000.
The 2013 balance sheet shows $29 million in total assets, although that figure includes almost $13 million in share capital and $15 million in loans to subsidiaries.
Mr Tomeski would not reveal what the company's revenue for the 2014 financial year would be but said PlayUp was edging closer to break-even status and that it had not needed to raise further funds.
He claimed PlayUp's app, which can be used to buy content from sports teams, leagues and athletes, has 8.5 million unique users, half of whom are based in India and the the rest of the subcontinent.
PlayUp counts billionaire poker machines magnate Bruce Mathieson, former Telstra chairman Bob Mansfield, Asciano director Geoffrey Kleeman and Justin Ho, a member Hong Kong's Ho family, as board members and investors.
While the board, particularly Mr Mathieson, holds a large stake in PlayUp, it attracted investment from an impressive list of Australians, including former Test cricketers Steve Waugh and Adam Gilchrist.