Australian founder of cryptocurrency start-up Wyre loses $267m fortune

An Aussie who spent years sleeping on a mattress on the floor and sent out a whopping 2300 cold emails seeking funding for his start-up has seen a $267 million deal to sell his business fall over.

The Sydneysider had returned to Australia from the US in May, feeling “burnout” after years building up his cryptocurrency payments company, Wyre.

The business was set to be sold for $US1.5 billion ($A2.2 billion) to US-based payment giant Bolt, with co-founder Michael Dunworth poised to cash out his 12.5 per cent holding in Wyre once the acquisition was complete.

However, since the deal was inked the cryptocurrency market has dropped, with bitcoin down a whopping 60 per cent, while the US tech sector has also taken a battering with valuations plunging.

Mr Dunworth had returned from holidays to discover the devastating blow to his fortune when Bolt cancelled the deal.

“I suppose money isn’t really in the bank until it’s in the bank,” Mr Dunworth told The Australian Financial Review.

“I’m trying to be as realistic as possible. Otherwise, you’re only going to break your own heart. But there is the thought that I could have worked this whole 10 years for zero dollars.”

Bolt, which was valued at $US11 billion in January, did not reveal much publicly about why the deal had been pulled.

However, it said it would continue its partnership with Wyre as independent businesses, which would allow it to focus on its core areas.

“We will continue our existing commercial partnership with Wyre to pave the path of crypto integration into our ecosystem, bringing Wyre’s innovative crypto infrastructure to the world,” Bolt’s CEO Maju Kuruvilla said.

Wyre investor Ether Capital said the two are entering a commercial agreement to bring Wyre’s one-click capability to Bolt’s customer platform.

“We’ve already begun integrating Bolt’s technology to help bring 1-click crypto to millions of users within the crypto space,” Wyre CEO Ioannis Giannaros added.

Mr Dunworth said market conditions have changed a “lot very quickly” and said Wyre had been acquired during a “pretty chaotic time” when cryptocurrency was experiencing a “bull run”.

He said Wyre had been in the process of transferring 40 out of 50 of its United States money licences over to Bolt, which were worth about $1 million, before the deal went under.

The 36-year-old said the company could either look for another buyer or move towards listing the company on the stock exchange.

“We had multiple parties interested last time, and though the market has changed, I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the case now,” he said.

“And given we’re not actually flat out busted or bankrupt, and are still growing, it’s still likely that someone out there might want to buy us.

“But the silver lining is Wyre has still got a lot of value in it, and we’ve still got revenue and growth, and that kind of thinking is what’s keeping me mentally comfortable at the moment.”

Read related topics:Sydney

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