Could they lose $900K?

When NetBank was shut down by federal regulators Friday, the founders of a young software company worried they could be forced into a cash crisis.

By Elaine Pofeldt, FSB Magazine

(FSB) -- After NetBank Inc. was shut down by federal regulators Friday, the founders of Applied Cognetics feared it could force their young firm into a cash crisis.

Applied Cognetics, a software development and online marketing firm based in Brooklyn, N.Y., has about $1 million in deposits in NetBank, an online bank with $2.5 billion in assets that regulators closed Friday because of an unsustainable level of mortgage defaults.


Although the FDIC insures bank deposits of up to $100,000, Applied Cognetics president Chris Colthrust and his four business partners aren't sure what will happen to the remainder of their account.

"Every penny I saved for the last 10 years was in this," said Colthrust, 39. "Basically all of our operating funds and accounts were in that bank. Everything we've worked for the last 2 years [could be] up in smoke."

A cash-intensive business, the company has more than $120,000 in accounts receivable due Monday. Colthrust and his partners will be working the phones Monday morning to alert media buyers and others the company owes that its payments are going to be delayed.

"Not only is it extremely embarrassing but shocking," Colthrust said. To meet their obligations, he worries they'll have to liquidate any of their personal savings and borrow money from friends and family until the NetBank situation is sorted out.

NetBank customers with accounts exceeding the FDIC limit will become creditors in NetBank's receivership, the FDIC said Friday.

Mike Bailey, Applied Cognetics' managing partner and head of business development, said he called the information line FDIC gave to depositors on NetBank's website, but came away with little information on the status of its money.

"You get a very nebulous answer when you call the number," Bailey said.

The NetBank website tells clients: "Please note: as of 5:00 PM EST Sunday, Sept. 30, you will be able to resume all normal account activities."

Wilmington, Del.-based ING Direct, which acquired the deposits of Alpharetta, Ga.-based NetBank Friday, referred CNNMoney's calls to the FDIC. An attempt to reach the FDIC on Saturday for comment was unsuccessful.

Colthrust, a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said having his money tied up in the failed bank is a serious setback for his young venture. Applied Cognetics bills itself as a one-stop shop for online lead generation and Internet development.

He and his team - who formed the company after a subprime mortgage lender where they worked was sold - have built the 10-employee company's sales to more than $10 million since it was founded in 2000. Ironically, given that lenders' catering to subprime borrowers have led to a spike in home loan defaults, subprime lead generation software is among the services Applied Cognetics sells.

Colthrust said he opened the company's account with NetBank when he was starting the venture. He had already opened a personal account with the online bank in the late 1990s. After ramping up operations two years ago, the firm started turning a profit this past March.

"This was all very new," Colthrust said. "I was living off of my savings for the last two years to get this thing started."

Why keep the business's money in an online bank? When Colthrust had approached traditional brick-and-mortar banks to open a commercial account, he found them unhelpful and the paperwork daunting. He never imagined losing access to his money.

"We're sitting here in total shock," Colthrust says. "Our money is in some unknown state. There's a lot of stuff that makes me want to cry." Top of page

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