Yesterday we witnessed “War of Words” and a throwing of mud over the ZX Spectrum Vega+, between the ex-management of Retro Computers, Paul Andrews & Chris Smith, and the Chairman of Retro Computers,. Dr. David Levy – which even managed to hit the BBC News Online.
Pledgers to the ZX Vega+ campaign we’re left wondering what’s happening to their money which they’ve invested, with comments arrived on Facebook pages including, “I’m getting a bit worried about the money I’ve pledged…” and also, “I am increasingly believing I will not see any return on my investment. Oh well, it was always going to be a gamble.”
Now the story has grown even more as Paul Andrews has released another press statement today, clarifying his position once again, highlighting that he had no access to the £400,000+ funds raised in the indiegogo campaign, after Dr. Levy mentioned that they have (Retro Computers Ltd.) “…begun legal proceedings to recover company funds that are unaccounted for,whilst the company was under the sole financial management of Paul Andrews.”, and he also raises the fact that he requested, “proof of the project’s progress, such as evidence of a working prototype to the design submitted by Rick Dickinson…”
The full statement can be found below…
Retro Computers Ltd: A Request for Openness from the Directors
Yesterday, we (Paul Andrews and Chris Smith) issued a press release distancing ourselves from Retro Computers Ltd, a company we originally founded, and its current directors David Levy and Suzanne Martin. In response, Retro Computers issued a wholly inaccurate counter statement in what we believe was an attempt to deflect focus from our key message. We therefore wish to further clarify our situation, and respond to a number of factual inaccuracies.
We are both lifelong fans of Clive Sinclair and his ZX Spectrum Computer, and it was this passion that led us to form the company in the first place. Under our leadership, Retro Computers successfully crowd-funded and delivered the ‘original’ ZX Vega. We produced this new-generation console purely for the love of the retro scene, with financial gain a motive far from our thoughts. Thousands of people were happy to receive their Vega consoles, and we were extremely proud to have been a small part of the Sinclair story.
Our next vision was to produce a hand-held version of the console – the ZX Vega+. However, prior to the completion of the campaign, we resigned our directorships due to irreconcilable differences between us and David Levy. After we left, the Indiegogo campaign raised over £400,000 – funds, of course, to which we have had no access. As we were still shareholders in the company we were keen to see how these funds were being spent by David Levy and the new directors. However, despite posing key questions to them (both directly and through legal teams) no relevant information was forthcoming.
In support of all backers of the Vega+ project, we simply requested proof of the project’s progress, such as evidence of a working prototype to the design submitted by Rick Dickinson, proof that Retro Computers owns the IP used in the console, or confirmation from the factory that the devices will ship to consumers from beginning on the 15th of September as promised.
Our experience in the retail and manufacturing field has taught us that a product such as the Vega+ would normally take around 18 weeks to manufacture, and therefore with the promised delivery date just six weeks away, we find it incredible that Retro Computers could not show us or the backers one single photograph of a production-spec model, nor could they confirm the full list of games to be included with the console. It is these simple concerns regarding the manufacturing timescale that led us to issue our recent statement.
We understand from Retro Computers’ recent official statements that there is a legal dispute with Cornerstone Media International, the company responsible for placing our successful original Vega console with a number of retailers. Whilst we cannot comment on this for legal reasons, we feel it necessary to clarify that there are no legal proceedings whatsoever instigated against ourselves – Chris Smith and Paul Andrews – at the current time, and we do not understand why there would ever be any. We are of course prepared to take any action necessary against any libellous statements made in any form that suggest otherwise.
Our focus is – and always will be – supporting the backers of this project, and doing what we can to ensure the product they signed up for is delivered on time and to spec. Despite both of us having other business interests in a variety of fields that require our full-time attention, we have spent a great deal of our own time and money in an attempt to gain clarity on the issues mentioned above. We believe that backers are not interested in behind-the-scene management arguments, changes of directors and distraction tactics; they (and us) simply want to ensure their money is safe.
We therefore take this opportunity once again to ask Retro Computers Limited for evidence that will reassure backers that the project is on track, and that the hundreds of thousands of pounds that were paid from the backers to the company after we resigned as directors have been well-spent. Our suggestions for this reassurance include photographs of the final moulds, a pre-production sample, a full games list or a video of a fully-working prototype to prove that the project is on-track and ready for the mid-September delivery. We are simply asking for evidence that should be available today rather than a promise of confirmation at a vague point in the future, as previous official updates seem to have suggested.
Although we distance ourselves from the current management team, as shareholders but more importantly retro and Sinclair fans, our only wish is that this handheld console is successfully delivered to the thousands of people who have financially supported it, and that they are happy with the end result – of which our original intention was a fantastically fun handheld console designed by industry legend Rick Dickinson, and packed with a thousand excellent games.
As more news comes in about the future of the ZX Spectrum Vega+ we’ll keep you updated.