By Lassi Noponen
A number of changes have been made to Loudspring these past weeks and I wanted to touch on a few of the questions that have come up since the news of me stepping in as the CEO. During Bigge’s tenure Loudspring grew significantly, and developed into a well known Nordic Accelerator, he stays with Loudspring as an advisor. In addition to this we begun our transition into the future operating mode and have continued to make good progress on all fronts. I would like to talk about is what my focus will be as CEO and provide clarity to our shareholders.
Primarily, our focus will be more on developing the value of our current core portfolio companies and transition them into larger industrial players, not the least our majorty owned companies. This has been stated before in our strategy update, but I want to reiterate our firm focus on this. In addition, the building of shareholder value for all shareholders will always be at the top of my list of concerns. I cannot comment on the share price, but I would say that many in the new Loudspring team and I are major shareholders ourselves in the company and I have an utmost loyalty to all of our shareholders and will do my level best to increase shareholder value in the coming years. But please, do your own math, do your own research and make your own decisions. We will continue to work hard, leaving nothing on the field.
I thought I might also provide a bit more background on myself in this letter, so that shareholders can get to know me a bit better as CEO.
I started my career at Neste, Finland’s oil company, where I held many positions in the 90s. During that time, I also did my Masters at London Business School. I am originally a lawyer, but I have not practiced law, but find the legal background often helpful in the work we do. At Neste I was involved with contracts, mergers and acquisitions, technology management, and ultimately, I became the group controller. But at that time, I decided to move on.
After Neste, I was a partner at Evli Corporate Finance, focusing on mergers and acquisitions. In 2001 I started Proventia Group with a few partners and we began investing into environmental technologies. I exited Proventia Group in 2008. I knew the founders of consulting company Cleantech Invest before that time and I joined them in 2010 when we turned the firm into an investment company. We have continued developing Cleantech Invest into what is Loudspring today.
When we started Cleantech Invest, we invested into a group of startups and all of them were small. Now, as Loudspring, many of them have grown, even significantly. The next step for us as a group of companies is to take selected core companies to the next level and also continue increasing ownership in some of them.
We have learned from our experiences and we focus our own efforts on companies where we can have control such as Eagle Filters and Nuuka Solutions. We do this because we have seen that Loudspring having control brings the best benefits to our shareholders. We also have a few valuable minority holdings such as Swap.com and Nocart which we will continue to support as shareholders moving forward.
The ultimate macro factor of climate change strongly supports our business. This is an existential threat, and for us it is a priority that will not unfortunately disappear overnight. Sometimes, I’m surprised by the lack of urgency regarding this task. Regardless, we just have to keep doing what we do, and our companies’ growth figures do support the growth of this market.
When it comes to challenges for us in the short term, it should be acknowledged that investment market conditions have unfortunately deteriorated during the last half year, and securing funding is more challenging for all growth companies in general. We will look into equity and debt solutions, always keeping our shareholders’ interests as a top consideration.
Finding the right talent is a key success factor for growth companies and we have recently started a major recruitment campaign for our portfolio firms and we are truly excited about the quality of candidates, which proves that our mission is very lucrative for many talented individuals. If you are reading this and think you or someone you know is the right fit for us, then please get in touch.
Another challenge for us in the short term is providing transparency to our portfolio. We have been asked by investors to provide better transparency, but the challenge there is that our portfolio companies are mostly private and have no obligation to report publicly and Loudspring often holds minority stakes and cannot decide the level of disclosure. Sometimes, there are business secrets that they do not want to report. We have been looking for solutions and have promised we would do something about this. As previously reported, we have just started working with Inderes, which is a very well respected equity research house in Helsinki, to provide coverage of Loudspring and its portfolio. This will serve shareholders and investors well I trust.
Saving natural resources is our mission, and it is a truly important one. As I have already written in this letter, I’m surprised by the lack of sense of urgency in society when it comes to this mission. Despite the lack of urgency from some, we will continue on this mission while at the same time focusing rigorously on building shareholder value. We will also focus on cost, profit and exceeding the market’s expectations. I’m looking forward to making more announcements very soon.
Malminrinne 1 b, 00180
Joshua B. Kirkman