Powerhouse Ventures is taking a firmer hand with its investments this year, booting a director off one board and watching as the founders of another resigned.

The tech investor said the chairman of augmented reality business Motim had “been removed” and another director had quit the board afterwards.

They let chief executive Andrew Plimmer stay.

Powerhouse (ASX:PVL) says it “pursued and effected governance changes” at the New Zealand company, after a call from its own CEO Paul Viney for the board to act on Motim’s lack of progress was ignored.

“Powerhouse has been working in the background on developing strategic options for Motim and has been encouraging the Motim board to engage and own the process to maximise shareholder value, as is their responsibility,” Mr Viney said.

Cleaning house

Powerhouse chairman Russell Yardley and chief Paul Viney told Stockhead last year they would be putting pressure on their investments to turn intellectual property into products – something some of their companies hadn’t achieved after ten years.

The strategic shift was essential after Powerhouse was forced to write off $7 million when Hydroworks, a Christchurch-based company that made turbines for hydroelectric generators, went into liquidation.

Powerhouse shares over the past year.
Powerhouse shares over the past year.

Although Powerhouse had directors on that board, what was actually happening in the company before the dramatic collapse was unclear.

Powerhouse subsequently had to post a $10.2 million loss.

Powerhouse shares closed down 2 per cent at 20.5c.

Shape up or ship out

Powerhouse also led the charge in SolarBright to get rid of the founders and major shareholders, Pat and Nicola Martin, as it sees the way forward as being to sell off or licence out company’s IP as the way forward.

“Powerhouse and other shareholders have been concerned about the governance and direction of SolarBright for some time. Powerhouse is of the view that the founder resignations are in the best interests of the company and the shareholders,” it said.

The investor is taking care of the search for a new director.

Mr Viney says there’s been much interest in SolarBright’s products, particularly the solar-powered road stud that collects, and transmits, road and traffic data wirelessly in real time and a solar road stud that detects ice.

“Discussions to acquire the IP have been underway for some time and international interest has been registered.”

Stockhead is seeking comment from Powerhouse.