Mergers & Antitrust Law News

Suitable Technologies Sale Price ‘Indefensible’: Founder’s Wife

Nov. 12, 2019, 10:34 PM

The founder of Suitable Technologies Inc. was sued in Delaware by his wife, from whom he’s separated, over his plan to sell the robotics pioneer for “an infinitesimal fraction” of its value.

Scott Hassan is “a brilliant inventor” who played a key role in the evolution of online search engines, including as the founder of what became Yahoo! Groups and as an early developer at Google, according to the Chancery Court complaint.

The heavily redacted suit was made public Nov. 12 after being filed under seal Nov. 5 by Hassan’s wife, Allison Huynh, who says she co-owns his 600,000 shares. The couple began legal separation proceedings in 2015, court records show.

Hassan started Suitable in 2011 after leaving Willow Garage, a pioneering tech incubator he had previously founded. Suitable’s flagship product is the Beam, an industry-leading videoconferencing, or “telepresence,” robot. The Beam has been used by Google, IBM, Microsoft, the Golden State Warriors, and even the White House, according to the complaint.

But despite sinking $93 million into the “cutting-edge patents” and services that have made the Beam a success, Hassan abruptly and inexplicably began “winding down” Suitable last year, the suit says.

The process culminated in the proposed sale of most company assets for the “indefensible” price of $400,000 to a Danish consortium led by Blue Ocean Robotics Holdings APS, according to the complaint. He allegedly made the move after an attempt to “gift” the company failed.

“Mr. Hassan’s actions deprived the company’s stockholders of tens of millions of dollars or more,” the suit says. “Simply put, Mr. Hassan willfully ignored his fiduciary duties in favor of what can only be described as a ‘sweetheart deal’ with Blue Ocean solely motivated to enrich himself.”

Sections of the complaint explaining how the sale would help Hassan are blacked out. The suit also requests expedited proceedings.

Cause of Action: Breach of fiduciary duty; aiding and abetting; civil conspiracy.

Relief: Damages, an injunction, costs, fees, and interest. Portions of the prayer for relief are redacted.

Response: Suitable and Blue Ocean didn’t immediately respond to Nov. 12 requests for comment.

Attorneys: Huynh is represented by Richards Layton & Finger.

The case is Huynh v. Hassan, Del. Ch., No. 2019-0893, complaint unsealed 11/12/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Leonard in Washington at mleonard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloombergenvironment.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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