Firewire Founder's New, Altrusitc Business Venture Has Come Under Scrutiny - Stab Mag

Firewire Founder’s New, Altrusitc Business Venture Has Come Under Scrutiny

Nev House is great on paper, but struggles to reach its goals.

elsewhere // Feb 1, 2021
Words by Jack Mutschler
Reading Time: 2 minutes

What If I told you there was a way to save the earth, provide homes for the less fortunate, and make a profit all in the same move? That’s the sales pitch Neville Hyman proposed years ago while starting his company Nev House. The goal of Nev house was to manufacture structures from recycled plastic materials. These structures would be used as homes and schools for countries in need.

Nev was an Australian surfboard shaper with a keen eye for marketing. Eventually, he ditched his board brand “Nev Future Shapes” and established Firewire Surfboards alongside Bert Burger. Firewire took off, and Kelly Slater ended up purchasing a majority stake in the company.

Hyman’s next move was Nev House. 

According to the Australian Financial Review:

In September 2014, Nev House claimed that within five years, the company could be valued at $US11.6 billion, generating $US1.2 billion of profit after tax and spitting out dividends of $US700 million. To put that in context, that valuation would have made Nev House bigger than all but the top 30 companies listed on the ASX, and worth more at today’s levels than Santos, Scentre Group and Ramsay Health Care.

A Nev House.

Investors like Sally Fitzgibbons, Layne Beachley, and Kirk Pengilly put their money down but never saw a profit. Nev House is a good idea on paper but it faced many obstacles coming to life. They were unable to produce a functional plastic product, and the lack of financial reporting worried investors. Nev’s business partner Anthony Morris was accused of fraud before and seemed to be heading down similar paths.

The company was paying employees full salaries without any sales, many of whom were family members and friends. After years of hiring, firing, and collecting funds, Nev House only completed one of its contracts: 15 cyclone-proof houses on Tana Island, Vanuatu.

Hyman admits that lack of leadership and communication has hurt the company in the past, but after Nev House’s Annual General Meeting in 2017, things have supposedly improved. Today, Nev House has a newly appointed board and a fresh list of investors.

Many of the original investor are still skeptical, however, claiming that the company has never delivered on any of its promises.


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