Thomas Jackermeier Dismissed From Fanatec CEO Role

Developing - Thomas Jackermeier Dismissed As Fanatec CEO.jpg
The original funder of parent company Endor AG and CEO of Fanatec has been seemingly dismissed.

Images: OverTake

The inimitable founder and CEO of Fanatec, Thomas Jackermeier, is set to depart his post at the top of the German sim racing equipment manufacturer.

Parent company Endor AG, which trades publicly on the Munich, Hamburg and Stuttgart stock exchanges, issued a brief statement yesterday (28th Mach) announcing the change.

“Today, the supervisory board of Endor AG has decided on the dismissal of CEO Thomas Jackermeier, effective at the end of March 30, 2024, thereby fulfilling a key condition set by the lending banks for the extension of the standstill agreement until June 30, 2024,” reads the brief statement, submitted by Matthias Kosch, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Board Member.

Here, it appears that Endor (Fanatec) claims that Jackermeier's departure is directly linked to a loan standstill agreement – whereby, typically, a repayment schedule on existing loans is halted under the proviso of certain requirements.

Fanatec F1 Cockpit.jpg


In a separate statement released earlier on the 28th, the Landshut-based company explained that it was “in negotiations with lending banks regarding a standstill agreement until June 30, 2024” and that the “standstill agreement is subject to conditions.”

Several key changes have happened recently to Endor’s Supervisory Board. Kosch replaced Andras Semsey as CFO at the end of last year, and Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Oliver F. Gosemann, resigned in February 2024.

A 27-Year Legacy​


The stewards of the Fanatec brand first listed publicly on 27th June 2006 and, according to Endor AG, Jackermeier owns “around 50 %” of the company’s shares.

He is credited with founding the business in 1997, with its first steering wheel, the ‘Le Mans’, hitting the market in 1998.

The name ‘Endor’ is a reference to the Forest Moon of Endor in the Star Wars film Return of the Jedi.

“When I started this business 25 years ago, I had absolutely no idea where this would end up now,” said Jackermeier to invited media during quarter-century anniversary celebrations in 2022 at Spa Francorchamps.

“I mean just look around, as I walk through the [24 Hours of Spa] paddock and you see the Fanatec logo everywhere, these are the things you cannot imagine – and believe me, I have quite some vision.”

Fanatec Stand, ADAC SimRacing Expo 2022.jpg

Fanatec Stand, ADAC SimRacing Expo 2022

Recently, Fanatec has suffered product delays and slow shipments, in particular surrounding Black Friday deals and new lines such as the DD+ wheel base.

Endor’s financial year aligns with the calendar year, and at the time of publication, its Q4 2023 results have not been published. Earlier this year it issued a revised earnings forecast warning of potentially reduced revenues and a negative EBITDA margin for the 2023 financial year. This was marked down to what it called “supply chain disruptions.”

However, its outlook for 2024 was positive, projecting increased revenues and earnings as recently as February.

Update - 30th March 2024​


Endor AG published a further statement on the 29th March, clarifying (in German, translated to English) that Jackermeier will remain active at Fanatec "in another capacity" and that the Supervisory Board will appoint a Chief Restructuring Officer as per the bank's request.

According to the company, this will be to make use of his industry contacts, product management and strategic partnerships.

"In order to secure the financial future of the company and come to a future-oriented agreement with the lending banks, we are forced to reorganize the management team," said Siegfried Stieger, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

"We will continue to push ahead with the optimisations that have been ongoing in the company since the appointment of the remaining board members and initiate a comprehensive restructuring with the prompt support of a CRO."

Fanatec M-Sport Rally WRC Wheel Button Module.jpg


A "comprehensive restructuring" could mean further changes aside from a fresh chief executive, a restructuring that Jackermeier is expected to help CFO Kosch organise.

"At the same time, it is crucial for us to keep the founder Thomas Jackermeier active in the company. No one in the sim racing market has a comparable network and feel for market trends. I am very pleased that Thomas has agreed to take on his new role," summarised Stieger.

We have reached out for further comment. A succession plan is not publicly known, although we’ll update this article should Fanatec issue additional information.
About author
Thomas Harrison-Lord
A freelance sim racing, motorsport and automotive journalist. Credits include Autosport Magazine, Motorsport.com, RaceDepartment, OverTake, Traxion and TheSixthAxis.

Comments

Premium
Jackermeier recently did a video with Kirieth on YT about the issues they’ve been having. One of the points raised was that some UK orders were given incorrect shipping information and got lost in shipping hell, the point was raised about people getting partial orders delivered and so on, Jackermeier profusely assured us that this has all been resolved and everyone has got their orders.

A guy I know ordered a CSL DD bundle on August 29th of last year. After multiple shipping labels created, parcels dispatched, it finally arrived on the 2nd of January. Well, I say it, I mean most of it. 3/4 boxes arrived (thoroughly beaten up), the 4th, the actual wheelbase… nope.

He’s still waiting. It’s almost April. He contacts customer service, no reply. He posts on the fanatec forum, deleted.

They can burn as far as I care.
 
It was expected to be honest. Something had to give.

All these problems delivering product and service, and still spaffing millions on real life motorsports sponsorship. Not a good look really, and very possibly why the bank's conditions required the removal of Jackermeier as CEO.
 
While his dismissal is seemingly based on that contract, it wouldn't be surprising if Fanatec's current ongoing collapse in performance and reputation added an extra nail or two into that coffin.

Hopefully the new CEO will turn everything around and restore Fanatec to what it once was.
 
Premium
They seem to have just drifted too far away from what they originally started off as. Like a lot of small/niche companies that see an opportunity to grow they make arse out of it and it’s the customer care side that suffers. To be fair I’ve never had any problems when I have ordered stuff and it all turned up on time but it’s clear that wasn’t the same for many people and I have never had to deal with their customer service.

I just hope other Sim Racing hardware manufacturers have learned a bit of a lesson from this.
 
Jackermeier recently did a video with Kirieth on YT about the issues they’ve been having.
I have no problem at all with media, journalists and content creators having their travel cost reimbursed when it's hands-on with new products, games, sims or even interviews and events.

But it did irk me that Fanatec paid Kirieth's expenses to run an interview specifically about issues. It's a fine line, but that was a little iffy for me.
 
Premium
WOW! Definitely surprising. I assumed Thomas would probably be the CEO until he retires or passes away. Looks like I guessed wrong. Perhaps this may bring about some meaningful changes to Fanatec in the near term.
 
What?. English isn't even my second language. Did I understood correctly that Fanatec lacked funds so they borrowed money from a bank, then they failed to pay back on schedule so Fanatec asked to the bank for a temporary delay in they payment and the bank asked for his head as a condition?, or I am misunderstanding the situation?.
 
OverTake
Premium
What?. English isn't even my second language. Did I understood correctly that Fanatec lacked funds so they borrowed money from a bank, then they failed to pay back on schedule so Fanatec asked to the bank for a temporary delay in they payment and the bank asked for his head as a condition?, or I am misunderstanding the situation?.
That is how we understood it as well yes.
At some point (like many companies) they got funds from banks, now they seem to be in a situation where they would like to pause payments (maybe to have that money available for further investments rather than giving it back) but the bank/s made it a condition that their CEO steps down.
 
WOW! Definitely surprising
Really? For a long, long time I've been wondering how they were still in business. The company has operated like a clown show for years. But even so, their ardent fans kept praising them with comments like "I've literally never had a single problem with my Fanatec gear, and my three RMAs went smoothly, only taking a month or two." People even posted "Thank you so much, Fanatec!" threads on Reddit simply because they received their order in 14 days. The "reality distortion field" attributed to Steve Jobs comes to mind.

And it's much worse than only the CEO and a couple of members of the board stepping back. They have had a Chief Restructuring Officer appointed, which, AFAIK, means they are very close to bankruptcy.
 
F…. and I have ordered their stuff 2 days ago
Yeah, I feel you may be in for almost a random event. I almost ordered a new wheelbase but decided just to look at the recent feedback and it wasn't good. Some people get their stuff, some people are in limbo.

Odd they are so terrible when they sort of have the outward image of being the premium sim product. Maybe I'll just buy a used one off ebay so at least I know it will get to me.
 
That is how we understood it as well yes.
At some point (like many companies) they got funds from banks, now they seem to be in a situation where they would like to pause payments (maybe to have that money available for further investments rather than giving it back) but the bank/s made it a condition that their CEO steps down.
Wow. I get that companies don't manage money like the average Joe does, but a bank having such a leverage as to being able to straight up ask for the CEO head is nuts.

The bank must have totally lost faith on him, the company or both. and seems to imply that Fanatec have a big struggle with liquidity, as the CEO was unable to pay back enough as to be capable to even save his own ass.

I don't understand how Fanatec can have that kind of issues with how much they seem to spend on sponsorships. I don't know if maybe they are dying of success. Maybe with the covid simracing bubble they tried to grow too fast, and then when everybody got back to their jobs and the demand slowed down a lot they got caught with loans to pay back, supply chain issues, and lots of money spent on sponsorships.

I don't know, I think that I must be misunderstanding the situation, they seem way too popular and big as to fall. From the other side the issues with delayed shipments seem to imply that the company has been struggling for some time.
 
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Sad to see how the mighty have fallen.

I have never had an issue with my Fanatec gear going back to 2012 when I bought a CSR Forza wheel and CSP V.2 pedals to play F1 2011 on Xbox 360. I was thoroghly impressed with Fanatec presentation and quality (the billet aluminum pedals were--and still are--like jewelry), and the strong FFB when experiencing a blowout at 180 mph hooked me on sim racing. I have since upgraded to HE Sprints, but I hope my CSW 2.5 wheelbase soldiers on until I jump to a Simucube or Asetek DD.

"Vielen Dank" to Thomas for his passion, drive, and contributions to our collective hobby including elevating it--for good or for bad--to an e-sport. Fanatec set the bar high and here's hoping the brand will reassess the market and address quality and customer support issues. Meanwhile, it's a cautionary tale for new industry leaders not to lose sight of core priorities as they grow.
 
Another reason the whole "publicly traded company" is crap. The CEO is a figure head, the board are figure heads, the shareholders only want ROI. The customers sit in the middle and suck on it.

On the other hand, a 4k BMW racing wheel, no podium pedals, a gazillion versions of DD wheelbases, funding real racing and taking an age to come out with a good quick release, just adds to the fact something needed to change.
 
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Another reason the whole "publicly traded company" is crap. The CEO is a figure head, the board are figure heads, the shareholders only want ROI. The customers sit in the middle and suck on it.

On the other hand, a 4k BMW racing wheel, no podium pedals, a gazillion versions of DD wheelbases, funding real racing and taking an age to come out with a good quick release, just adds to the fact something needed to change.
You are spot on. The fiduciary duty forces perfectly profitable companies to ever increasing profits, and as we know the purchasing power of their clients is finite. So in the long run the companies end up forced to predatory practices, merge with other company until we have an almost monopoly or going bankrupt.

Just remember how in the late 90s we had 3dfx, Ati, Matrox, Nvidia, S3..., now we have Nvidia in an virtual monopoly, amd that very few people purchase, and intel that are undesirable. And with the lack of competition a graphics card cost as much as some second hand cars.
 
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Premium
Might it be that the reason for hit and miss delivery is because of Fanatec not paying the product suppliers on time and the manufactures are not releasing the product to them? It becomes a spiral. no stock, no sell or use customer money to pay for the stock they cannot afford to pay for.
Seeing as it is all made in China, i now wish i had bought direct from China as in Moza etc. His interview was very laid back and he had the attitude of someone who does not care anymore and was waiting for things to hit the fan. I have a hunch there is going to be trouble ahead and some people are going to not get an order.
I hope i am wrong.
 
Thinking about it more, I wonder if this news explains the supposed warehouse issues that caused all the Black Friday delays, which could've just been a scapegoat for their lack of stock and inability to finance and manufacture on time. It obviously doesn't take 3-4 months to ship items, so there's a bigger story afoot here. If so, Fanatec must be absolutely hand-to-mouth financially speaking and quite possibly on the brink of collapse / administration.
 
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