Hackett takes control at Redflow as stakes rise for investors

simon_24mar16_14

Australian tech investment guru Simon Hackett has officially taken virtually full controlled at the ASX listed battery storage developer Redflow, assuming the position of CEO of the company on Friday, on top of his roles as executive chairman and major shareholder.

Hackett, who first joined the company’s board as a non-executive director in November 2014 after making a $2.2 million investment in May of that year, has increasingly become the public face and chief promoter of Redflow’s zinc-bromine battery technology.

Not only has he invested more than any other, he is also chief adopter of the technology, havinginstalled 60 ZBM3 battery modules with up to 300kW and 660kWh of energy at his office in Adelaide in April this year, as well as a ZCell battery at his home.

His tech pedigree includes more than 25 years of senior management experience as the founder of national broadband company Internode, which he sold in 2012, and former non-executive director of iiNet Limited (2012-13) and NBN Co (2013-16).

Hackett replaces outgoing CEO Stuart Smith, who is said to have resigned, after overseeing the outsourcing of the battery manufacturing process to US company Flex. Fellow board member Richard Aird was named as the company’s acting Chief Operating Officer – a role he previously held at Redflow from 2010-2012.

The executive reshuffle comes at what Hackett describes as a “pivotal time” for the company, as it prepares for the first deliveries of its ZCell residential flow batteries in Australia.

Redflow director and former chairman Howard Stark said the company was now embarking on the next phase of its development.

“With Stuart’s departure we have appointed Simon and Richard as acting CEO and acting COO to oversee the delivery of ZCell batteries in Australia and to identify the leadership team to deliver Redflow batteries to the world,” he said in a statement.

But Redflow also enters a delicate time. As David Leitch notes in his weekly energy market analysis on Monday, Redflow has flagged the possibility it may need to raise more money in the coming year. The success of the rollout will be crucial.

Last week, Hackett told the Disruption and the Energy Market conference hosted by RenewEconomy in Sydney that Redflow’s battery storage technology was on the cusp of “making a real difference in the world.”

He said the company had received around 1300 expressions of interest in its ZCEll battery, since its residential website had been launched roughly a month ago.

He also said that the company’s first shipment of the 10kWh zinc bromine “flow” batteries was en route to Australia, from Flex’s factory in North America, but that rolling them out to the market in Australia and globally would be a slow process.

Hackett also told the conference that he had personally trained 45 installers “because I know how it works” and more would be trained in coming months.

The company intends to announce its initial ZCell installation company list in mid September. Hackett says Redflow has received inquiries from more than 380 installers interested in working with the ZCell platform.

“Because this is a new technology to the residential market, we are being intentionally selective in our initial installer engagement and training processes,” he said in a statement.

“Our aim is to ensure that initial deployments of ZCell solutions are delivered in a cooperative and successful manner.

“This is pivotal time for Redflow. We need to carefully manage our production ramp-up and product delivery rates to balance with our sales growth across multiple market segments. For a still relatively small company, we are alive to the need to maintain this important balance.”