Seattle startup Vicis officially eliminated the jobs of more than 100 employees on Friday, including its interim CEO, in the latest sign of problems at the high-tech football helmet maker.
Previously, the company had furloughed employees, putting a majority of its 110-person staff on temporary leave while its board explored options including a potential sale. But in an employee webinar on Friday, the company informed employees that they are being officially let go, GeekWire has learned.
It’s the most significant sign of problems yet at the startup, which has abruptly run out of cash after raising more than $85 million from 400-plus investors including current and former NFL stars. A Vicis spokesperson declined to comment on the layoffs when contacted by GeekWire.
Bill Shadle, the company’s interim CEO, lost his job as part of the cuts, as well. The former Kymeta and HP executive joined the company in September as chief operating officer and was named to the interim CEO position in recent weeks.
Vicis held several board meetings this week to determine its fate, weighing dueling offers from investors that would keep the company alive. A decision is expected early next week.
Two groups have emerged in recent weeks as a potential rescue syndicate for Vicis, GeekWire has learned. One includes a small set of existing shareholders from the Seattle region. An alternative group with connections to former CEO Dave Marver is also in the mix, according to sources familiar with the discussions. That group is being led by Aves Ventures, a Bellevue, Wash.-based family office and existing Vicis backer.
Marver is a Vicis co-founder. He resigned and stepped down from the board on Nov. 22.
Other co-founders include Dr. Samuel Browd, medical director of Seattle Children’s Hospital Sports Concussion Program; University of Washington professor Per Reinhall, chair of the UW’s mechanical engineering department; and UW professor Jonathan Posner, who left the company in 2015. Browd recently stepped down from the board, according to sources close to the company.
Vicis spun out of the UW in 2014. One longtime board member said the company put too much focus on grabbing market share rather than turning a profit; other people involved with Vicis say there wasn’t enough transparency into its operations and balance sheet. The company battled long-standing competitors in a complicated football helmet industry.