Francesco Piovanetti, who had been Cazador’s CEO, has become the new CEO of Net Element. Piovanetti is a resident of Puerto Rico with a background in corporate finance, capital markets and investment banking. He previously worked for Deutsche Bank and professional services firm Deloitte.
Piovanetti shares a passion for amateur racecar driving with Zoi, who inspired the whimsical look of the executive office at Net Element’s headquarters, which is filled with shiny chrome furnishings crafted from auto parts. Piovanetti and Zoi, both amateur racecar drivers, met about eight years when they participated in a Ferrari racing event at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in South Dade. They have since been part of the same racing team in a recurring series of Ferrari races for nonprofessional drivers, "schedule permitting," Piovanetti said. "You have to be very deliberate and nimble at very high rate of speed, and that’s very attractive to Mike and me ... "
Now they’re hoping for a high-speed transition to profitability at Net Element. According to an investor presentation in early September, Net Element expects to narrow its losses before turning profitable in 2014, "and we’re sticking with that guidance for now," Piovanetti said.
Net Element estimated a net loss of $2.5 million this year and has forecast a narrower net loss of $900,000 next year. The company also disclosed in a Form 8-K filed Sept. 5 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it has forecast net income of $5 million in 2014, more than doubling to $11.4 million in 2015. The company estimated $7.5 million of revenue this year and forecast growth to $20.9 million next year, $39.3 million in 2014 and $67.4 million in 2015.
The Oct. 2 merger of Net Element into Cazador may have been a big stride toward turning the technology company into a moneymaker. The transformative merger added the word "International" to Net Element’s name, allowed its stock listing to graduate to the NASDAQ stock market from the less liquid over-the-counter market, and lifted its flattened stock price.
Traded under ticker symbol NETE, the stock of Net Element closed at $8.70 on Oct. 3, the first day of trading after the merger, up from just 25 cents the day before and as little as one cent during the 12 previous months. One day later, on Oct. 4, Kozko, Piovanetti and Rakishev rang the opening bell at NASDAQ’s main trading facility in New York City. The price has bounced between about $5 and $8 since then.
The propped-up stock price reflects a potential capital infusion of as much as $81 million, the $46 million of escrowed cash in Cazador’s coffers, plus up to $35 million more if Cazador’s investors exercise warrants to buy more stock. Net Element will use the fresh capital to increase promotion of its websites and further develop its mobile payment platform for cellphone users.
The cash will buy more time for Net Element to capitalize on the serendipity that its multitasking style can produce. Activity in its movie marketing business called Openfilm, for example, led to new opportunity in electronic commerce via mobile phones. Openfilm helps independent filmmakers market their work. Its online video library contains more than 8,400 films collected from such sources as film festivals and film schools.
Filmmakers purchase memberships to market their work on the Openfilm website and share revenue with the business. James Caan and actor Robert Duvall serve on an advisory board picking films to be marketed. Since acquiring Openfilm in December 2010, Net Element has adapted its online-transaction technology for sharing revenue with filmmakers to develop a new software platform for executing electronic payments via mobile phones.