Sunday 21 September 2014 10:52 pm

In defence of easyProperty: Sir Stelios bites back

Jon Moulton’s unprovoked attack in his column directed against me personally is nothing more than a cheap shot. 
Worse still, he has clearly not done his homework on – the latest brand extension from easyGroup, my personal investment company.
First, I believe he failed to declare an interest in the matter, as I think he has already invested £75,000 in a previous easyProperty equity raise.
Second, he completely missed the fact that although I have licensed the brand to this start-up company, (licensing is easyGroup’s business model), I do not own any shares in it nor am I a director of the company, whose valuation he is attacking.  
Which in plain English means I do not get to set the pre-money valuation. 
I have since been told by easyProperty that a simultaneous equity raise from institutional investors has realised a further £6.5m on the same terms as this Crowdcube raise.
In short, Moulton was shooting from the hip, but of course he was trying to make a point about celebrities using crowd funding.
Two points here: What is the definition of a celebrity? Someone who is famous for being famous?
My business model is different. I own a famous brand. The easy brand is recognised by consumers all over the world because it is used by one of the best known airlines in Europe, now a FTSE 100 member, flying more than 65m customers annually.
By extending this brand into other sectors, transparently and honestly, easyGroup makes investing in the respective start-up less risky, not the other way round – all other things being equal.
Mr Moulton also needs to brush up on his valuation skills.
EasyProperty is a typical early stage, high-tech, internet start-up, which traditionally attracts a demanding valuation. Look at Airbnb and Uber. 
Incidentally, my first look at crowdfunding was when Moulton was promoting a start-up airline, Odyssey, also on Crowdcube. 
That company is still at least two to three years pre-revenue. 
Yet the pre-money valuation was £20m. 
Talk about celebrities “foisting” shares on crowd funding sites; this is an airline that will not fly for another two to  three years.
At least easyProperty is up and running now. It is a capital expenditure-light, asset-light internet start-up that does not need to buy an extra plane to serve another set of customers in order to grow.
Leaving all this aside, Mr Moulton, as a shareholder of easyProperty, will be happy to hear that easyProperty has managed to bust its crowd funding requirement with days to spare – raising £1.25m in just days – more than 25 per cent over the asking amount.
So the market has decided that the valuation of easyProperty was good enough for them. 
The investors have spoken now. As the old hands in the stock markets say:
“The market is always right in the long run.”

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