Seattle Football Helmet-Maker Backed by NFL Stars Is Facing a Cash Crunch
Vicis has furloughed employees and is working to raise more capital, according to media reports
December 18, 2019By Bill Conroy
Vicis, a Seattle company that makes cutting-edge protective football headgear, is a darling of the gridiron world where head injuries are a prime concern, but it now appears to be running out of cash, according to a recent report in the New York Times.
Vicis inaugural product was the Zero1 football helmet, unveiled in 2017 and ranked first in 2017 and 2018 NFL/NFLPA Helmet Laboratory Performance Testing. The Zero1 helmet is now in use by more than 150 professional and college teams as well as some 1,200 high school football programs across the country.
The Times report, is based on a letter to shareholders penned by Vicis new chief executive officer, Ralph Green Jr., and reviewed by the newspaper. Our employees are currently furloughed and we need to raise capital in order to continue operating, or we may have no other option but to wind down all operations, Greene wrote.
The company has received $1.1 million in grants from the NFL, which does not have an ownership stake in Vicis, the Times reports. Vicis helmets are worn by NFL stars like quarterbacks Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.
In addition, the company has attracted investors who have a big stake in the game, including NFL quarterbacks Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers. Both quarterbacks invested in the companys $30 million Series B fundraising round through Orange County-based RX3 Ventures, Vicis announced earlier this year. It was the second investment in the company by Smith and Rodgers. As of this past February, Vicis had raised more than $85 million.
In addition to Smith and Rodgers, the company also has received funding and/or is advised by former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach; former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice; now-retired Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin; and current Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
A notice now appearing on Vicis website states: Vicis will be conducting internal year-end activities through January 2, 2020. We will resume accepting orders at that time.