Did you happen to catch WheelTug CEO Isaiah Cox on CNBC’s Squawk Box yesterday morning? It was another in their series on “The Disrupters” — disruptive technologies. And it began with a quote from Bob Crandall, a dean of the airline industry who ran American Airlines from 1982 to 1998. WheelTug is “attractive and viable.” He’s recommended it to people in the industry. He’s even considering investing in it himself, which, if he did, would now apparently cost him $180 per WheelTug share (the previous private placement round, at $90, just having closed).
We still have a long way to go — and may never get there — but it’s encouraging to know that each publicly-traded Borealis share represents ownership of, among other things, approximately one (non-tradeable) WheelTug share. And that the “other things” could one day have value, too. Because, as you’re doubtless sick of hearing me remind you (but it just makes me feel so happy to think about it), if this little five-inch wide motor that fits inside a wheel can drive a fully loaded airliner at 20 miles an hour, might its underlying technology not have application elsewhere? In cars? Or elevators? Or forklifts? And if this Borealis technology is real and can ultimately produce value for us shareholders (no guarantee of that! invest only with money you can truly afford to lose! use “limit orders”!), then might not some of its other technologies, and perhaps even its Canadian iron ore deposits, one day prove to have value as well?
Given my obsession with all this, I probably watched the interview more closely than most.
The first thing I noticed was that our CEO does not seem nearly as weird as our company (you will recall, for example, that our company is headquartered, at least nominally, in Gibraltar, and recently filed a 1,200-page prospectus to begin trading its shares on the Prague Stock Exchange — doesn’t everyone? — except that so far no shares seem to have traded). He seems presentable, amiable, and eminently rational.
Given the time constraint, he didn’t even mention the most basic of selling points: that with our little motor, the pilot no longer has to wait for a human driving a $1 million tug to back his jet out from its gate. Nor the savings from not sucking into an engine the occasional hammer or suitcase accidentally left on the tarmac. Nor the diminished air and noise pollution. Nor a host of less obvious advantages.
But he packed an awful lot into the time he had — and did a wonderful job highlighting a key difference with the competition: with our solution, the airline puts up no money and can have the wheel removed at any time it doesn’t live up to expectations or some better system comes along. With Safran/Honeywell’s solution, a disinstall would be a lot harder. Which may be one of the reasons the competition has thus far signed up no airlines and we’ve signed up eleven.
I keep trying to figure out what could go wrong. Maybe GE or Boeing or someone is about to reveal an even better solution — and without violating any of the patents protecting WheelTug and its motor. Maybe Boeing and Airbus will simply never allow the cash savings to the airlines, the time savings to the passengers, the capacity savings to the airports, and the environmental savings to our planet that WheelTug would confer. So there are certainly risks. This is a speculation.
Yet if this were a normal, NASDAQ-listed-type speculation — a junior drug company, for example — one could easily imagine its sporting, say, a $500 million cap, as investors gambled that, well, they just might pull it off (in which case, it could be worth billions). Currently, with Borealis around $11 a share, it sports a $55 million market cap, up from the $15 million market cap of 14 years ago, when I first wrote about it.
As usual, I can think of no better end note than . . . at the very least . . .
. . . isn’t this fun?
Enjoy the video!