Unlockd goes into voluntary administration, blames Google
Competition & Consumer Protection June 12, 2018 9:49 pm By Christine Caulfield | Melbourne

Advertising technology company Unlockd has gone into voluntary administration, blaming Google’s threats to remove the startup’s apps from its marketplace for its fall.

Despite winning interim injunctions against Google from courts in Australia and the UK, Unlockd’s business has been hit hard by the search engine giant’s “anticompetitive” conduct, the company said Tuesday.

Unlockd delayed a planned initial public offering on the Australian Stock Exchange in response to the threats, and has not been able to raise the funds it would have secured in the float, it said.

“The ramifications of Google’s actions have had and continue to have a deep impact on the business when considering the valuation of Unlockd prior to these threats and the postponement of the planned IPO,
which would have fueled the continued growth and expansion of the
business,” the company said in a statement.

“As such, we have not been able to secure the capital we had expected to replace the IPO and therefore have been left no choice but to move into voluntary administration.”

Unlockd sued Google in Federal Court on May 31 accusing it of breaching the Australian Consumer Law and misusing its market power. A separate action was filed in the UK. Both cases are set to go to trial in September.

The Australian startup, which launched in 2016, said its “revolutionary platform” threatened Google’s dominance in the digital ad market.

The company offers targeted advertising to users when their phones are unlocked in exchange for points that can be redeemed on things like mobile credit and data, entertainment or loyalty points.

“We believe that Google’s conduct and the effect of its actions represents a further example by them of anti-competitive conduct toward innovative
start-ups such as Unlockd, that might pose a future threat to their
position in the market,” it said.

“Until wide reaching change is brought about to prevent companies like
Google from abusing their dominant market positions, consumers and
innovation will continue to suffer.”

Unlockd said its board of directors and managers were now working with administrators to weigh its options, including potential acquisition.

A spokesperson for Google said the company had nothing to add to its original statement in response to Unlockd’s litigation, which said Unlockd was given an opportunity to comply with its Google Play and AdMob policies but failed to.

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Christine Caulfield

Christine Caulfield has been a journalist for 18 years. She was most recently the Co-Managing Editor at US legal news publication Law360. Prior to that she worked as the County Court reporter for The Herald Sun. She is Co-Founder and Editor of Lawyerly.