Friday, October 17, 2008

The EEStor LightEVs Deal: An Interview with Carl Watkins

Halfway through my hour long Sept 29, 2008 interview of Carl Watkins, President of LightEVs, a phone he's set up to screen calls rings in the background. I joke that it's Dick Weir calling to get Watkins to stop talking to me. Watkins finds that amusing and wonders aloud if some of what he's already shared with me is permissible under his NDA with EEStor. I tell him not to worry about that just to keep talking. His laughter now is interrupted by the voice message being recorded in the background. I can hear it because its coming across a speakerphone and because Watkins pauses to listen himself. It's John Stephens calling to let Carl know that he's just had a serious offer from someone who wants to invest in their company.

I say to him, "that was quick." Watkins says yes but he's not interested in outside investment. Their plan is to fund this to completion with their existing group. So, how much does an EEStor license for ebikes cost anyway? Watkins laughs at the forward question. He pauses and says, "I can't discuss that, " so I start to ask another question but he interrupts and says, "It was substantial. I will say that. It was a substantial amount but I'm not going to say how much it is." He did confirm that it consisted of at least 2 parts: an up front fee and a payment upon delivery of production line prototype, similar to Zenn Motor Company.

What made him comfortable signing with EEStor? Watkins reveals that it was a 4 year conversation initiated by Dick Weir:

"Basically, his philosophy is he wants to keep control of the company. So if he can raise money from people like me or Zenn, he doesn't have to sell equity. So his method and objective of financing the company was to approach various people to see if anyone was interested in a technology agreement which is essentially the ownership of the technology in a certain segment of the market. "

[article continued here]