Poured Passion and Money into a Vision, Now Rich Listers Are Reeling from Accusations of Poor Governance

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The saga of a controversial start-up that poured passion and money into its ambitious vision, only to be beset by accusations of poor governance, has captivated tech industry observers.

Two billionaires were once united in a project to send energy from Australia to Singapore through the world’s most extended subsea cable. Unfortunately, they are now at odds, and one has accused the other of causing cost overruns due to “inexperienced management.”

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, a billionaire of Fortescue Metals Company, exclaimed the capital costs for Sun Cable’s Australia-Asia PowerLink Project (AAPL) have continually risen dramatically – by 10%, 50% and even 100%.

“Such an approach is not sustainable, which I can easily expect from the inexperienced management and a board of directors with no prior experience in large-scale handling tasks,” he said.

“It’s a tragedy,” Forrest continued. “We took tremendous, huge risks to make this project happen, and now it’s become the victim of a massive asset bubble.”

Despite their shared financial contribution to the project, Forrest and Atlassian’s co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has yet to agree on its scale or scope. As a result, creditors are stuck between two competing visions for Sun Cable that these billionaires present.

Grok Ventures, the private investment arm of Cannon-Brookes, indicated that all investors except Squadron Energy (Forrest’s venture) continue to back the undersea cable.

“All investors, including Grok, are convinced that the AAPL project is worth backing – it has achieved significant milestones and continues to stay on course in delivering cost-effective renewable energy to Singapore,” it said.

It is currently unclear how the two billionaires will resolve their dispute, but it is clear that both of them remain committed to the project. With its first phase estimated to begin operations in 2027, Sun Cable has become a bellwether for how two tech industry titans can collaborate on a shared vision. 

The future of the AAPL project is still being determined. But given the scale, ambition and potential impact on how electricity supplies are managed in the region, it’s inevitable that everyone will be closely watching for the outcome.

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