Exclusive: Vibe Tickets founder Luke Massie to "gift" shares to investors set to lose out from administration
Vibe Tickets founder Luke Massie is to give away shares in his new company to investors who had stood to lose money as a result of the company's recent administration.
We reported last week that the company had been placed into administration, only to be bought back from the administrators by 25-year-old Massie.
Massie had then formed a new holding company, Vibe Group Holdings, and was expected to acquire 100% of Vibe Tickets and 90% of Vibe Pay, with the remaining 10% owned by management. Investors in the new structure including ANS Group founder Scott Fletcher and Vela Technologies PLC.
In recent days a row had broken out on LinkedIn, with some revealing their disagreement with the way the situation was handled.
Matt Newing, founder of Lancashire-based telecoms company Elitetele.com and the original backer of Vibe Tickets, said he had lost around £400,000 and blamed the "under handed way in which all this was dealt with". "It was disgusting and morally wrong," he added.
But in what he claims is an "unprecedented" move, Massie has broken his silence to announce he will gift equity in his new vehicle to his previous crowd backers because, he says, “it’s the right thing to do”.
In the new arrangement, the crowd investors have the opportunity to opt-in to receive the newly-offered shares. Those who do will receive shares in the new company, Vibe Tickets Ltd, proportionate to their original investment in The Vibe Ltd. These shares are being gifted from Massie’s own personal equity.
“This is a gift from me, personally,” he said. “Those investors are who Vibe stands for. They put their faith in me over other start-ups raising cash. They helped make Vibe happen. I owe them for that. I’m just reciprocating the support they’ve given to me because they deserve better than the situation they were left in. They deserve to be looked after and to have their investment honoured.”
The crowdfunders who opt in to accept the equity offer will sit alongside Scott Fletcher MBE, who has committed £500,000 and Vela Technologies Plc investing £200,000, with Massie close to agreeing terms with a major new investor in the coming weeks.
Massie added: “This is a hugely exciting time for Vibe – we’re free from the shackles that were stifling our progress and we’re working on some significant developments. I want the crowd to share in all that, because that’s what they bought into in the first place.
“Since the moment my second offer was accepted to buy back the business, it’s been my intention to do the right thing by the crowd. The sensitivity of the situation meant it took longer than I’d have liked to put things in place – seeking the best advice on how I could execute my plan to best benefit investors took time and looking after the Vibe team had to be top of my agenda.
"The last seven days have been the most testing of my life so far. I’ve watched conversations, based on misinformation and total inaccuracies, play out in the media and observed while others peddle their own agendas at my expense. It’s taken every inch of me to remain tight-lipped because I’ve known that, had I gone against advice and spoken publicly about my experience, I’d have jeopardised my plans to turn this situation around for the crowd.
“My actions speak louder than their words. While others have used my age as a weapon to insult me and tarnish my name, ironically, it’s their immaturity that’s stoked the fire in me to pull this off.
“I’ve had to go against the grain to make this happen – most people thought I was crazy to suggest it. But I’ve pushed hard, I’ve insisted, I’ve justified my thinking and, as I always have, I’ve done things my way.”
During the LinkedIn row, Fletcher and Antony Laiker, Executive Director at Vela Technologies, had leapt to Massie's defence, with Laiker claiming Massie had handled the matter "meticulously".
But Newing had dismissed the show of support as "spin and PR" and said "we all know what really happened".
Massie said that while he couldn't "go into any detail" about the events leading up to the administration, "I will say Vibe was backed into a corner and the administration was forced upon me".
He added: "It’s been a huge distraction which we’ve moved on from now. I refuse to dwell on it. I’ve got work to do and the next stage of the journey starts now, with the continued support of the crowd.”