Joel Macdonald has had his ups and downs since his days of playing in the AFL.
Joel Macdonald has had his ups and downs since his days of playing in the AFL.

Wiped out: former Demon’s $160 million fall from grace

IT WAS only 16 months ago that former AFL player Joel Macdonald made a high-profile debut on the Australian Financial Review's Young Rich List.

If a week is a long time in football, 16 months is an eternity in the corporate world.

The 34-year-old managing director of emerging tech company GetSwift has had his fortune wiped out by the market's response to his company's own response to last week's Australian Securities and Investments Commission announcement that the company's two most senior executives would have to front a Federal Court hearing, beginning on March 1, in regard to allegations the company misled the market over the value of key contracts.

Macdonald stood down last year as chief executive of the company he founded, with former chairman Bane Hunter stepping into the CEO's chair.

Both have been called on to respond to the ASIC allegations in a civil suit.

ASIC announced last week that it was pursuing both Hunter and Macdonald for alleged contraventions of the Corporations Act.

ASIC will reportedly call on the Federal Court to ban the two executives from managing corporations for a period yet to be determined.

The company responded to the ASIC announcement on Monday, strongly refuting the allegations made against it.

Joel McDonald’s roller-coaster ride came after footy.
Joel McDonald’s roller-coaster ride came after footy.

"The company, Mr Macdonald and Mr Hunter irrefutably deny the allegations made by ASIC and, collectively, will vigorously defend the proceedings," a statement issued to the ASX on Monday said.

Unfortunately for the former Melbourne player the GetSwift statement had a disastrous impact on the company's share price, which on Monday plunged to a two-year low of 30c per share.

It was only in December 2017 that the share price hit a record $4.30.

According to The Australian Financial Review, the shares plunged more than 31 per cent on Monday alone, sinking as low as 28c per share.

Fairfax Media reports the share price plunge has cost Macdonald $160 million.

It was in October 2017 that Macdonald's personal fortune was valued at more than $36 million - with his shares in GetSwift worth more than $100 million.

The value of his personal stake in the company is estimated to have grown to more than $200 million when GetSwift reached its record share price of $4.30.

ASIC announced early last year it was investigating the boom start-up after reports emerged 12 months ago that the company had failed to update the ASX about the value of key contracts with clients.

Its market value soared in 2017 as it announced many partnerships and commercial agreements with companies including Pizza Hut, Lone Star and YUM! Brands, which operates Taco Bell and KFC.

Former Brisbane Lions player Joel MacDonald has lost a fortune.
Former Brisbane Lions player Joel MacDonald has lost a fortune.

Those declared contracts helped the company attract more than $75 million from investors before ASIC's first announced its investigation into the company's financial statements.

The AFR still estimates GetSwift has about $87 million in cash and cash equivalents in the bank.

Macdonald started the company as a local alcohol-delivery delivery business called LiquorRun, which launched in 2013  while he was still finishing his career with the Brisbane Lions.

As the business started to boom, Macdonald and his teammate investors, Rohan Bail and James Strauss, spearheaded a project to deliver real-time delivery tracking software specific to their unique business needs.

"We built it to scratch our own itch," Macdonald said in 2017.

"We had our own liquor company and a lot of people needed alcohol on a Saturday night and surprise, surprise it got really popular and we needed a solution to really streamline and optimise that whole scenario.

"It just so happens that a couple of big companies in America took more of an interest in our software than our logistics company and before we knew it we had a completely different business and the global demand was just incredible."

His company plans to allow any company in the world to follow in the footsteps of Uber's driver-tracking platform or Domino's pizza delivery system.

Macdonald played 125 AFL games before retiring at the end of the 2013 season.