Blog Post

Fisker’s bankruptcy filing reveals high-profile creditors from Washington, Valley, Hollywood

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Beleaguered electric car maker Fisker Automotive finally filed for bankruptcy late on Friday, many months after expected, and over a year since it made its last car. While the bankruptcy has been expected for a long time, this is one of the first times the public has been able to see Fisker’s very long list of creditors — 669 pages long, with an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 creditors.

Creditors are individuals and companies to which Fisker owes money, so the list includes vendors as well as investors. It could also include people that put down deposits for cars and never received a car, or people who bought a car from Fisker and for whatever reason are still owed money. At this point it’s hard to tell which creditors are involved with what part of the business and for how much, but what we do know is that there are a lot of well-known names on that creditor list.

One of the more interesting creditors is “Robert Hunter Biden,” who appears to be the son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, and is also a Managing Partner with Rosemont Seneca. The name “Robert Hunter Biden” appears on the list of creditors, but not his investment firm’s address or his personal home address. I’ve reached out to Rosemont Seneca to get more information.

If it’s the same person, Biden could be an early investor or just a potential customer that is owed deposit money. Biden’s connection to the company would be controversial news, though, because Fisker received (and mostly lost) a large loan from the U.S. Department of Energy, and claimed to be building a plant in Biden’s home state of Delaware (but never built it).


Over a couple years, Fisker, through its broker Advanced Equities, took the unusual approach of raising small amounts of money from over a thousand wealthy individuals. So it looks like some of these personal investors appear on this creditor list. Those include Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and Cisco CEO John Chambers. I previously heard that both Benioff and Chambers had been one of those thousand investors in Fisker through Advanced Equities, and earlier this year I reached out to both of them but never heard back.

Other high profile Silicon Valley executives on the creditor list include Nest CEO Tony Fadell, Bloom Energy CEO KR Sridhar, NRG Energy CEO David Crane, and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen. After being contacted for comment, Andreessen said he was not an investor in Fisker but had put down a $5,000 deposit when Fisker first launched. A spokesperson for Nest refused comment.

A big chunk of the Kleiner Perkin’s partner team is listed as creditors including John Doerr, Ray Lane, Ben Kortlang, Brook Byers, Ted Schlein, and Trae Vassallo. Kleiner Perkins is one of Fisker’s largest investors and actually owns 6.8 percent of the equity of Fisker in total. But one of the more surprising things that I learned through my reporting on Fisker is that venture capital executives sometimes used their personal funds to invest in the company. However, the Kleiner Partners could be customers or investors and the filing doesn’t reveal the details.

Hollywood also got snared in the Fisker’s hopes and dreams. Leonardo DiCaprio is listed as a creditor (it was already known that he was both an investor and a customer), but “Don Cheadle,” (appears to be the actor) “Andre Agassi,” and former Vice President Al Gore are also listed. Al Gore was one of the first customers to receive a Karma and also works with Kleiner Perkins. Ford’s Motor’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. also appears to be listed.

Along with the bankruptcy, Fisker is planning to sell its assets to a company called Hybrid Technology. Bloomberg reported Friday that Hybrid Technology is a group that includes the son of Hong Kong’s richest man Richard Li. The assets are being sold at a $139 million loss to taxpayers as the Department of Energy gave Fisker a $192 million loan, and was able to recoup part of that. Fisker estimates that it has assets of between $100 million and $500 million according to the filing, and between $500 million to $1 billion in liabilities.

If you look at this list, one thing is clear: there’s a lot of wealthy people who were willing to put down small amounts of money, and some very large amounts of money, into the dream of a startup building an electric car. While Fisker ended up burning through all of this money, its peer Tesla Motors has managed to survive and thrive with its Model S. Earlier this year I wrote this detailed article of Fisker’s rise and fall.

Here’s some of the more high profile names on Fisker’s creditor’s list:

  • BMW, the largest claim, for $74 million — Fisker bought engines from BMW for its second car.
  • Valmet Automotive, for $8.5 million — Valmet is the Finnish manufacturer of the Karma.
  • New Castle County in Delaware, Fisker owes almost a million dollars in property taxes to Castle County, where it owned a factory space that it hoped to use to build its second car.
  • Orrick, the San Francisco tech law firm has a claim on $845,000
  • Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President, Kleiner Partner
  • Andre Agassi (appears to own a Fisker Karma)
  • Kleiner Partners, John Doerr, Ben Kortlang, Brook Byers, Ray Lane, Ted Schlein, Trae Vassallo
  • NEA Partners, Scott Sandell, Ravi Viswanathan
  • David Crane, NRG CEO and Fisker car owner
  • Don Cheadle, appears to be the actor
  • Hans Joachim Schopf, former executive vice president of DaimlerChrysler AG and head of Mercedes Car Group R&D
  • KR Sridhar, CEO of Bloom Energy
  • Leonardo Dicaprio, actor
  • Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz Partner
  • Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, plus his The Marc R Benioff Revocable Trust
  • Mindy Grossman, CEO of Home Shopping Network
  • Richard Li, Hong Kong businessman, and reportedly part of a group that bought out the DOE’s loan
  • Richard Lowenthal, founder, CTO Chargepoint
  • Robert Hunter Biden, appears to be the second son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, investor with Rosemont Seneca Technology Partners
  • Ross Jaffe, Managing Director Versant Ventures
  • Shervin Pishevar, co-founder and co-CEO of Sherpa Global, advisor to Menlo Ventures
  • Tim Shriver, Chairman of the Special Olympics, and brother of Maria Shriver
  • Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest
  • William Ford Jr, Great-grandson of Henry Ford, and executive chairman of Ford Motor Company

[slideshare id=28612511&doc=file0-131125144225-phpapp01&type=d]

23 Responses to “Fisker’s bankruptcy filing reveals high-profile creditors from Washington, Valley, Hollywood”

  1. The Fisker Karma was an amazing car and it’s downfall was the software. I had the pleasure of meeting Henrik Fisker and drove the Karma for six months with only a small problem with the fold in mirrors. I will remain a true believer and look forward to Henriks next design!

  2. Once again the US Government violating the laws of our country. A loan with taxpayer dollars. When will they learn. Firs Solindra, now Fiskar. What else is there that we don’t know about.

  3. This car had horrible performance as well as poor hybrid capacity….even a Prius out performed this POS in milage per E charge etc. And, 0-60 mph time? Over 7 seconds….absolutely atrocious…..only an idiot or poorly informed person would buy this. Most people did their research and laughed…nice going Prez….you backed another loser…

  4. How did the name Fiskar come about? I saw a Finnish connection with the Valmont. Fiskars is a Finnish forestry machinery company and an owner of the American Brand Gerber in sporting goods cutlery and housewares cutlery. Is there a connection?

    Since I’m more in the used car area I wouldn’t be a customer. I am always surprised by how some supposedly intelligent people make these bad investments.

  5. charles-e.c

    The Rise and Fall of Fisker

    This is not good for innovation! However, it does demonstrate that there are investors who are willing to take risks on new technologies and innovations. The planet is rich with clean power waiting for innovators and inventors to tap into it. I’m hoping to move forward with aero-mobiles technology that won’t require batteries or fuels. It’s power source is already abundant, clean and renewable. However, my first challenge is to solve Climate Change by providing the world with a new type of clean hydro power plant designed in 70 story buildings that include 40 Francis Turbine Generators, which are 8 more than China’s Three Gorges Dam and the process does not require a river or lake to be dammed. See US Patent # 8,400,007 B2 entitled “Hydroelectric Power System” issued on Ma. 19, 2013.

    Charles E. Campbell, Founder & CEO
    Allen Hydro Energy Corporation – Cleantech Startup, Inc – Social Media Startup
    [email protected]

  6. Electric cars have been around for a hundred years and never caught on. So why would any sensible person spend $100k on one now? Get the price down to under $50 and you may be on to something but I doubt it.

  7. The government has no business investing in businesses. They should invest directly in technology. Atomic energy, space exploration are two good examples of investing directly in technology. The private businesses can use, or license, that technology making their own risk/reward assessments.

    Most economic extremes are the result of the government trying to rig free enterprise. And many of these “investments” are in reality paybacks to contributors.

  8. Ya know we could be a little less derisive and more charitable about the people involved here. How many of Edisons’ “inventions” failed before his lab brought out a few winners?
    If you don’t try you are doomed to failure. The politicians have divided this country and turned us into their squabbling half witted images, we need to awaken to this.

  9. Do the words “Ponzi Scheme” come to mind.

    Ford or GM or Toyota could have built this car for less money, it would have worked, and they could have made a profit from it. This car looks like a Mitsubishi.

  10. This guy was running a large scam, and he hooked some very big fish. It seems that the biggest fish was Barack Obama, who really doesn’t care how much he lost because it was our money.

    Most of these “victims” are speculators who have made millions of dollars and need a loss once in a while for tax purposes. Some of them are mental midgets who through inheritances, or being able to read a movie script, or being able to bounce a basketball ended up with lots of disposable income…so they disposed of it. Many of them are stupid people who jump on the latest bandwagon so they can invest in clean energy, natural food, global warming, climate change or some other scheme so that they will hopefully feel good about themselves. Or they give money to left-wing political campaigns for people who want to take even more of their money. They feel guilty for amassing a fortune without doing anything productive.

    And most of these people have millions or even billions of dollars and losing $5000.00 would be like you dropping a nickel down a drain. They spend thousands of dollars on “dinner with some friends”.

    The problem with Obama is that he wants to play with these people and spend money like them. but he’s spending money you and I earned through hard work, money we could use to buy food and clothes for our kids. Probably a good chunk of the 160 + million dollars he gave ended up as a “campaign contribution” for Obama’s next campaign, or to build his multi-million dollar retirement home in Hawaii.

    • To Jim:
      What a bunch of opinionated negative garbage you just spewed. You really got up on the wrong side of the today–or do your comments reflect your usual bad-mouthing nature? To open your closed mind a little bit, I’ll tell you something that is obvious to practically everyone but you: people invest in projects like Fisker because they BELIEVE in the company’s idea. Haven’t you ever read a prospectus? Over 30 years ago, a friend of mine tried to develop and market what is now satellite radio. Without major investors with some vision to back him, he wasn’t successful–BUT THE IDEA HAS OBVIOUSLY BEEN SUCCESSFUL. The government provides money for incubation of good ideas–some are more successful than others. Just think what could have been accomplished if Fisker had succeeded! But then, you’re probably the type who hides your extra cash under your mattress because you’re afraid of banks. Go blow elsewhere, Jim.

  11. Felix Hoenikker

    Its crazy how many “smart” people gave Fisker money…. don’t you wonder if they actually understood their investment? I guess its silly to expect a bunch of automotive and vc industry folk to recognize a bad investment.