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‘Blame it on Google’: ASX-Listed Unlockd in Administration

‘Blame it on Google’: ASX-Listed Unlockd in Administration

Pushed into an awkward financial corner by a row with Google, Australian mobile advertising start-up Unlockd has shelved its plans for a sharemarket float and put itself into voluntary administration.

Unlockd’s senior management and board, which includes former Telstra boss Sol Trujillo, is said to be working with administrators McGrath Nicol to find a buyer or alternative investment options.

Unlockd has sought to deliver targeted advertising to mobile phone users whenever they unlock their phones. But Google recently moved to prevent this happening on its sites, saying the way Unlockd sought to operate ran outside its rules.

Google says it suggested ways in which Unlocked could change its operation that Google would find acceptable, but this was rejected by Unlockd.

Unlocked yesterday was still blaming Google for its problem. “The ramifications of Google’s actions have had, and continue to have, a deep impact on the business, when considering the valuation of Unlockd prior to these threats and the postponement of the planned IPO, which would have fuelled the continued growth and expansion of the business,” Unlockd said yesterday – suggesting it could be mulling the possibility of legal action.

“As such, we have not been able to secure the capital we had expected to replace the IPO and therefore have been left no choice but to move into voluntary administration,” the statement concluded.

Unlockd’s senior management and board is reportedly now working with the administrators to find a buyer or “alternative investment options”.

The company is backed by some familiar Australian business names, including News Corp co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch and former Seven Group CEO Peter Gammell, both of whom are doubtless considering their options.

Despite the Google knockback, Unlocked is claimed to have more than 330,000 monthly active users worldwide involving deals with Boost Mobile in the US, Britain’s Tesco Mobile and Jamaica-based operator Digicel.

CDN notes that Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert, is not new to possibly losing millions in a gamble on a would-be revolutionary telecommunications product. In 2000, along with James Packer, he invested large amounts of family moola in One.Tel, a would-be challenger to Telstra dreamed up by entrepreneur Jodee Rich. Alas, that venture hadn’t been thoroughly thought through. It collapsed with massive debts – and a less than happy Rupert Murdoch. In the current case, it’s still possible, of course, that Google and Unlockd may reach an agreement and all will end happily. We shall see …

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