Holland’s US-based e-commerce checkout company Fast, described as a “buzzy start up” in the American media, collapsed on Wednesday after investors pulled their backing. It only produced revenue of about $US600 million last year and had about 400 workers, who he called “fastronauts”.
PitchBook, which provides data in US venture capital, indicated that Fast was last valued at around $US580 million ($A760 million).
It wasn’t his first failure. He was the controversial owner of Tow, a Brisbane towing company that had won a contract from the State Government to move cars confiscated under the anti-hooning laws.
That company collapsed in 2018 after a court dispute over who paid for the cost of impounding the cars when owners refused to.
When the Government refused, Holland had threatened to sell off all the records including the personal data of the car owners, but that was blocked by a court injunction and the company was later liquidated.
Holland remarked on Wednesday that some pioneers “don’t make it all the way to the mountain top”.
Fast had raised more than $US124 million in its series B seed round led by payments company Stripe and was looking at a second round with the hope of a $1 billion valuation, the so-called Unicorn level. It had also recently boasted of getting the Brisbane Lions on board.
But the company was burning cash at a rate of $US10 million a month and recently told investors it was trying to offload several hundred workers into another company.
Holland’s technology was installed on websites to allow customers to pass through the checkout with one click, but there was criticism in the US about how clunky it was.
“Start-ups fail for many reasons, of which Fast obviously was not immune,” Holland said.
“But decisions (were) made that lead to this outcome which I take responsibility for.
“But one thing I am 100 per cent certain that we did right was hire truly incredible people.”
Holland also claimed to be on the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland’s policy advisory board and at one stage bought the domain name qant.as in a bid to force the airline into paying $1 million for it.
He had suggested directing traffic from the site to Qantas’s competitors.