ASX-listed VC Touch Ventures and its CEO part ways

- March 12, 2024 2 MIN READ
Touch Ventures CEO Hein Vogel
Outgoing Touch Ventures CEO Hein Vogel
Touch Ventures, the ASX-listed VC fund initially backed by BNPL fintech Afterpay, is breaking up with its CEO, Hein Vogel, after 4.5 years.

In a statement to the market on Monday, the company said the board and CEO “have reached a consensus on his departure” with Vogel handing back his swipe card on March 29 “to pursue other opportunities”.

It’s been a torrid time at the helm for Vogel, which began live as AP Ventures, back when Afterpay had a 44% stake in the VC fund that set out to invest in other fintech.

Vogel’s departure comes after Afterpay’s parent company, Block, offloaded its 19.99% stake in Touch in January this year, with Gannet Capital acquiring most of the holding for a 17.81% interest, with founder Glenn Poswell joining the board.

The CEO took the business to an IPO (ASX: TVL) in September 2021 raising $100 million for its IPO at $0.40 cents a share. The float embodied the tech froth at the time with the shares closing around 26% higher at $0.50.5 cents on their opening day.

Touch shares are now worth $0.077 cents.

Last month, the company released its 2023 results, losing$15.4 million after writing off more than $27 million worth of investments in PlanPay and Till Payments.

It was an improvement on 2022’s net loss of $65.2m.

The net asset position at 31 December 2023 was $108.9m, including cash of $58.2m, a fall of around 54% in net asset value on the previous year. Touch’s total market cap ended 2023 at $49.3m. It’s $19.1m worth of early-stage investments is now a portfolio valued at $4.4m.

Mike Jefferies, who has remained chair of Touch Ventures through the entire period, said Vogel played a key role in listing the company and establishing its investment portfolio.

“He helped navigate the Company through the significant adverse market adjustments occurring in the tech sector in recent years,” he said.

There were small wins for the VC, with the sale of open banking fintech Basiq  to payments giant Cuscal 12 months ago, delivering $14.9 million on a $10m investment.

But that deal is overshadowed by the failure of the company’s very first investment, back when it was AP Ventures, travel BNPL PlanPay.

Originally founded as Play Travel by Andrew Paykel, it was a victim of the pandemic lockdowns and relaunched in early 2023 as PlanPay.

In total Touch invested $17.2m, topped up by a $5.1m loan. They were worth $12m and $2.1m respectively in 2022, but last year the funding tap was turned off, the entire $22.3 million investment was written off.

Vogel said in the annual report that “PlanPay struggled to meet its revenue expectations and customer targets, and as a result “Touch Ventures decided not to provide additional funding to PlanPay in September 2023.”

Touch said it’s now reviewing its investment strategy and structure and expects to provide an update at the AGM in May.

Hein Vogel said: “I believe that now is a good time for me to move on to my next challenge and allow Touch Ventures to continue to evolve with the recent emergence of a new significant shareholder in Gannet Capital which is represented on the Touch Board by Glenn Poswell.”

The Touch portfolio includes courier company Sendle, hospitality platform Ordermentum, and ecommerce solutions Preezie and Refundid.