When Henrik Fisker left last week, all we knew was that he “disagreed on business strategy” with the management, code for “board-room brawl, founder leaves in a huff.” Now we know where the disagreement was. It was whether to ask Uncle Sam or Auntie Zhang for money.
According to Reuters, Fisker and CEO Tony Posawatz could agree that the company needs money, lots of it.
Now for the hard part: Where to get the money.
Posawatz, a former GM man, was for hitting up the Department of Energy again to unlock access to a $529 million federal loan. DOE had blocked the loan, supposedly due to the delays in the launch of the Karma, but ostensibly because those loans became a hot potato.
Fisker, says Reuters, “was opposed to relying on additional federal funds.” The article did not say where Fisker wanted to get the money from, the guess is China. With Geely out of the running, the only Chinese suitor seems to be Dongfeng. If Dongfeng gets Fisker, effectively the Chinese government would give the money. Donfeng is owned by China’s central government.
Both strategies smell of desperation. The formerly generous DOE does not want to get caught in the cross-fire again. The Chinese are tight with money and usually buy when the company gets bust, see A123 etc.
Remember: If you want to destroy a small or medium, fortune, start a car company. If anyone asks you to invest in a start-up car company, run. Alternatively, shoot him.