A Scandanavian tech firm with a tiny office in New York City snagged more than $200,000 in aid meant to help American small businesses survive the coronavirus crisis.
Zedge, a digital publishing outfit founded in Trondheim, Norway, got a $217,900 loan last month through the feds’ $659 billion Paycheck Protection Program, according to a regulatory filing.
The publicly traded company — which offers smartphone ringtones and wallpapers through its mobile app — lists its “principal executive office” as a 500-square-foot space at 22 Cortlandt St. in lower Manhattan.
But most of its staff is based in Norway, where its product, design and technology teams work out of an office more than twice as large, records show. Zedge, which also has an outpost in Lithuania, had 53 full-time employees as of last July, according to its most recent annual report.
A Zedge spokesman didn’t respond when asked how many employees worked in the US. The studio-size Manhattan space houses “commercial operations including sales, accounting and finance, and business development,” according to a filing.
Watchdog group Accountable.US slammed the fact that a European company got a sought-after PPP loan as many home-grown American businesses struggled to get help. The program has also drawn fire for doling out funds to big companies like Shake Shack and the Los Angeles Lakers, which have since returned their loans.
“Call me old fashioned, but I think tax dollars should go to support small businesses in place like Norway, Michigan before they fund international companies actually based in Norway,” Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig told The Post in a statement.
But Zedge will only use the loan to cover expenses for its US operations such as payroll and rent as it grapples with the impact of the pandemic, according to company spokesman Jonathan Reich. PPP funds can’t be used to pay workers who don’t have a primary residence in the US, according to the Small Business Administration, which administers the program.
“Of course, we expect to fully repay any portion of the loan which isn’t forgiven,” Reich told The Post in an email.
Zedge is among more than 300 publicly traded companies that got loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, which is currently burning through its second round of funding.
More than 40 had pledged to return the loans as of Wednesday afternoon as the Trump administration pressured well-heeled firms to repay them, according to a database compiled by data analysis firm FactSquared.
Zedge reported about $8.8 million in revenue for its last fiscal year and has a market cap of roughly $11.5 million, much smaller than most other public companies that received PPP loans.