Make us your home page

Pressed financially, Tampa's Savtira seeks Chapter 11 and possibly a new city

From hot property to likely flameout, the trajectory of Tampa tech company Savtira has skidded into Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

Soon after initial bankruptcy papers were filed Friday with the court, Savtira CEO Tim Roberts emailed a statement claiming that his Ybor City firm had been forced to seek legal help.

"This is actually a protection bubble around the company to ward off this hostile takeover attempt," Roberts said. "We have plenty of money circling us and now that the blood is in the water, the sharks are all circling.

"We feel confident," he stated, "we will come out of this quickly and fully funded."

But where might Savtira be located by then?

I'm not sure many local folks share Roberts' financial optimism given the drumbeat of bad news emanating from the e-commerce company in recent months — especially the Department of Labor's inquiry into Savtira employees who are owed substantial sums in back pay.

This region's chief technology group, the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, finds itself shifting gears from November when it named Savtira its "emerging company of the year." Now it's publicly urging its members to help former Savtira employees find work again. (More than two dozen ex-workers have registered to do just that so far.)

"It's now a distraction," TBTF chief Heather Kenyon says of Savtira.

The startup's tale gets stranger with media reports from St. Louis, where Roberts got his start, and where he recently visited seeking fresh incentives in exchange for relocating his company there.

I'm guessing St. Louis can have Savtira if it wants to lure back a business in bankruptcy. A St. Louis official told its local Business Journal that if Roberts wants incentives, not only will he have to produce jobs, but also come up with a letter of credit from a bank proving Savtira could pay back any incentives if any job goals are unmet.

It feels like Tampa, which already bent over backward to welcome Savtira with millions in incentives if the company produced new jobs, has seen enough.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has indicated there will be no bidding war to keep Savtira. And he made those comments before the company sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Savtira filed a lawsuit last week against a website called that has content critical of Roberts' past practices in business startups.

"This is only the first amongst many lawsuits that Savtira feels it has to and will file against responsible parties" for trying "to derail Savtira's cause and course," Kevin D. Astl, Savtira general counsel since December, stated in an email that accompanied a copy of last week's suit against

A founder of that website and a disgruntled Savtira customer, Austin Hurst, told the Tampa Bay Times that the Internet is full of longstanding websites that share criticism of particular companies. He said he will contest the lawsuit as "frivolous" and will not shut down the site.

"I think the industry has beat him to market," Hurst said of Savtira's slow-to-launch e-commerce product.

In the technology world, that's probably the nastiest remark of all.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at

Pressed financially, Tampa's Savtira seeks Chapter 11 and possibly a new city 04/30/12 [Last modified: Monday, April 30, 2012 7:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pasco county lawyer disbarred for taking woman's money

    Real Estate

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday disbarred Pasco County attorney and former congressional candidate Constantine Kalogianis.

    The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday disbarred Pasco County attorney and former congressional candidate Constantine Kalogianis. 
[2016 booking photo via Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Rick Scott signs package of tax breaks

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed a tax cut package Thursday that — while vastly scaled back from what he wanted — eliminates the so-called "tampon tax" and offers tax holidays for back-to-school shoppers and Floridians preparing for hurricane season.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a tax cut package that will cost state coffers $91.6 million during the upcoming year. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  3. FBI probes fraudster's alleged church scam following Tampa Bay Times report

    Real Estate

    PLANT CITY — Once again, the FBI is investigating felon fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao.

    The FBI is investigating convicted mortgage fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao on new allegations following a Tampa Bay Times report.
[TImes file photo]

  4. Tampa Bay is ground-zero for assignment of benefits cases over broken auto glass


    When Rachel Thorpe tried to renew her auto insurance last year for her Toyta RAV4, she was stunned to see her monthly premium had nearly doubled to $600. The Sarasota driver was baffled since her only recent claim was over a broken windshield.

    Auto glass lawsuits filed by a third party (through what's known as assignment of benefits) are skyrocketing in Tampa Bay.
[Times file photo]
  5. Siesta Beach tops Dr. Beach's rankings of best locations in America


    Three beaches in Florida made it on a highly coveted list of the top 10 in America this year, ranked by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach."

    This May 18, 2017 photo shows Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fla. Siesta Beach is No. 1 on the list of best beaches for the summer of 2017 compiled by Stephen Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, a professor at Florida International University. [Chris O'Meara | Associated Press]