The fallout from Powa Technologies' collapse continues, as details of over-hyped deals, Wikipedia shenanigans, comedy videos and David Bowie tributes paint a picture of a company in turmoil, led by a David Brent-esque CEO.
Despite once boasting it was worth $2.7 billion, payments firm Powa went into administration last month. After failing to pay suppliers and staff for months, Deloitte was finally called in, with 72 people losing their jobs.
In the aftermath, a picture has emerged of a dysfunctional environment at the company, led by serial entrepreneur Dan Wagner. In a LinkedIn post Steven Prowse, who spent three months as the firm's acting CFO, says Wagner is "just a salesman obsessed with image - mainly his own".
Prowse even claims that Wagner parked his Bentley in a disabled spot, using a sticker belonging to a parent.
And the ex-CFO has also shared an email purporting to show Wagner dressed up as David Bowie. The email is dated 12 January, in the midst of Powa's financial crisis, when many staff were not getting paid.
Wagner's office clown demeanor is also in evidence in a video sent to staff at the end of last year in which he mugs for the camera and attempts to talk simplified Cantonese.
The Chinese patter is in celebration of Powa's deal with the country's UnionPay card scheme. However, digging by the Financial Times shows that Powa actually only signed a joint venture deal with a small Guangzhou-based mobile payments company called CN2Pay.
China UnionPay sent a cease-and-desist order via law firm King & Wood Mallesons "asking for evidence of a relationship between China UnionPay or the subsidiary UnionPay Network Payment and Powa, which they had not been able to find. If they couldn’t provide that evidence, the letter asked them to, y’know, cut it out," says the FT.
Overhyping deals appears to be a pattern - according to Business Insider most of the 1200 clients Powa once claimed to have signed up to its PowaTag payments app had not inked a contract, merely "expressed interest".
Business Insider has also discovered that Wagner's Wikipedia page has been edited in recent days to downplay Powa's collapse. Since 2009, Wikipedia user Techtrek has only edited one page - Wagner's, which the mysterious fan has amended around 100 times.