John Holdsworth says he has been forced liquidate his start-up venture AppChat, due to the vast amounts of capital it has consumed amid an ongoing legal dispute with a former employer and listed ICT firm Reunert.
Holdsworth said that with the company having to close its doors, “the real tragedy is that 15 people (AppChat employees) are out on the street and haven’t found jobs”.
Reunert originally brought an application in March 2012, in which it sought to enforce a contractual restraint of trade against Holdsworth and obtain interdicts preventing him and AppChat from ever competing against it.
The case was founded on an allegation by Reunert that AppChat was intending to directly compete with a mobile VoIP application that Nashua ECN were developing and had planned to launch imminently.
Holdsworth was the founder and CEO of ECN (Nashua), a provider of IP-based next generation network services. He sold that business to Reunert in July 2011.
He denied Reunert’s allegations, claiming that ECN had never traded in the mobile market and that its entire business was in the fixed line market.
Holdsworth was granted leave to appeal following a ruling delivered in the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on 25 January.
In a brief interview with BusinessTech on Friday (28 June), Holdsworth said: “I was forced into this liquidation as they (Reunert) have moved to out liquidate me…I’m in a position where I cant trade until September 2014.”
Holdsworth said he has pumped as much as R10 million into AppChat, and between R2 – R2.5 million in legal fees.
On the legal side Holdsworth stressed: “I don’t give up, and absolutely will win this case. There is a lot more to come, this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
He said that he intends to file multiple court applications in the week commencing 1 July, “that will shock South Africa”.