EV Startup Spends More Than It Makes on CEO's Jet

About twice as much to be exact.

Canoo, like many other electric vehicle startups, is struggling to survive. And as is often the case in the early days of a company, expenditures exceed revenue. But one cost in particular stood out in Canoo’s latest earnings report.

TechCrunch spotted an item near the bottom of a 10-K the company recently filed with the SEC and it details just how much Canoo is reimbursing CEO Tony Aquila for the use of his personal aircraft. The company said it helps cover certain costs and third-party payments, excluding certain incidental fees and expenses, and that it resulted in Canoo incurring approximately $1.7 million last year and $1.3 million in 2022.

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Those amounts don’t seem abnormally large but take on added significance when you consider that Canoo’s revenue for all of 2023 totaled only $886,000, about half of what it costs to cover Aquila’s private jet.

Aquila, who founded automotive industry services company Solera in 2005, is paid a $500,000 annual fee in equal quarterly installments and is entitled to any benefits available to members of Canoo’s board of directors. Aside from the reimbursements, Canoo said he has not received additional cash compensation in connection with his role as CEO.

Still, for a company that continues to post big losses and warn of its “ability to continue as a going concern,” a big expense like that looks bad, at least on paper.

Despite the expected financial struggles that most startups face, Canoo has continued to make progress toward scaling up production of its electric cars and fleet vehicles. The company last month said it successfully acquired most of the advanced manufacturing assets from Arrival, a once highly valued EV startup that declared bankruptcy earlier this year. The company has also signed recent deals including one with Jazeera Paints, a manufacturer that will buy 20 of Canoo’s EVs with an option to expand the order to 180. Canoo also has sales agreements with NASA and the U.S. Postal Service.

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