back to article ZX Spectrum reboot firm's shareholders demand current directors go

A majority of shareholders in ailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm Retro Computers Ltd – including Sir Clive Sinclair's corporate presence – are calling a shareholders' meeting to replace its current directors. A statement from company shareholder Paul Andrews sent to El Reg this morning revealed that he and fellow shareholders …

  1. DJO Silver badge

    Crowdfunding blunder

    All crowdfunding projects make the same claim that it is a "contribution" and not an "order for goods" and that would work but then they generally add a delivery charge and that is a contact to deliver which is legally enforceable.

    The moral here is, if you want to stiff your "customers", don't include a delivery charge.

    1. Tom 7

      Re: Crowdfunding blunder

      Or you could get a job picking your nose that is more in your capabilities.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: Crowdfunding blunder

      Errare humanum est

      "contract" not "contact"

  2. Lee D Silver badge

    Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

    But it's still a death-knell in the project and company, as far as I can see. That new person is going to spend most of their time sorting out the mess and complying with the law and that's going to take weeks, which brings them right into IndieGoGo's threat deadline of seeking action against the payments people made towards the project.

    "Administration" looms ever closer, I reckon. Sad if you had money invested in it, but to be honest if I had been one of those people, I'd have had a small claims action against this company over a year ago.

  3. SVV

    Retro Computers Ltd

    Unfortunately, cashing in the money and then having massive delays in delivering advertised product is an authentic retro Sinclair experience : both the Spectrum and QL got them into trouble for doing just that back in the 80s.

    Would it be overly cruel to suggest that Alan Sugar might be the one to bring in to do the "you're fired" thing?

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: Retro Computers Ltd

      Not to mention the ZX80 - I remember waiting as a 16 year old.....

    2. wallisoft

      Re: Retro Computers Ltd

      google electric cars - tesla ?

  4. Steve McGuinness

    A Wide Spectrum of opinions

    My tuppence worth would be ...

    "The company will be placed into Administration/Liquidated, the existing shareholders will retain any intellectual property & physical stock after buying it in a pre-pack, the backers will be left trying to claim refunds from a company in liquidation with no assets, and the whole thing will repeat itself in around 12-18 months as a new company"

    Stop me if you've heard this one before.

    1. Little Mouse

      Re: A Wide Spectrum of opinions

      Hopefully the shareholders will be able to salvage something out of this mess. It'll be interesting to see how good a job they do from here on in. Despite everything, I'm still keen to see the company succeed and delivering as promised.

      It's going to be interesting to see how the other half of the story drags out. Into the courts and beyond most likely, once the books have been opened and picked apart forensically. It's a good time to buy shares in popcorn, methinks.

      1. Steve McGuinness

        Re: A Wide Spectrum of opinions

        As much as I would like to share your opinion, my background was in IT and is now in Finance.

        And this kind of behaviour from small enterprises, formed with good intentions but moving swiftly into crisis control, is pretty much the norm. I would assume only the goodwill of Sir Clive has kept the business from being immediately moved into administration, although today's decision to hold and AGM and remove the directors indicates that is the path they are going down.

        Its sad. I am a huge Spectrum Geek, it was my 2nd computer after a ZX81 and I learned to write in Basic & Machine Code (on a Butlins holiday) so it holds many fond memories. I would have loved to see this succeed, but evidently the directors are more interested in their salaries than in delivering people's orders.

        1. wallisoft

          Re: A Wide Spectrum of opinions

          ahh. the vic20 - the 64, sprites!

      2. Munchausen's proxy

        Re: A Wide Spectrum of opinions

        "Hopefully the shareholders will be able to salvage something out of this mess."

        Well, I don't know about the shareholders, but the 'backers' are all receiving a good lesson, for those who can understand it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's getting boring now...

    I've said it before, but... all this fuss over something that was only ever going to be a Spectrum emulator running on some arbitrary generic handheld hardware anyway. It's a long-solved problem, the only advantage this was ever going to have was the seal of officialdom and being ready to go.

    Half a million is a lot on a personal level, but in business terms, where the base unit is generally millions to start off with, it's peanuts.

    Even if they'd used it on legitimate design expenses and overheads, I doubt $0.5m is going to buy that much. It'd have been more cost-efficient to find a manufacturer with a pre-existing low-powered Linux or Android based handheld design and have them lightly customise that instead of reinventing the wheel.

    Regardless, I doubt they even have that much any more as it's almost certainly been mostly frittered away on internal business politics and legal bickering. Since no-one in their right mind is going to give those cowboys more money at this stage, there's not a chance in hell the Vega+ is going to appear from them.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: It's getting boring now...


      I bought my second Retropie device only this morning. RPi 3B+ with RetroPie installed, a bunch of controllers (could have bought SNES-like or re-used original controllers from a variety of retro systems with adaptors and a bit of wiring, but I have a set of XBox 360 controllers and the dongle for them despite never having owned a modern console, and they are the best controllers for pretending to be everything from Playstation to N64 to Kempston to SNES to Megadrive, etc. controllers).

      Eventually, I'll buy myself a flat-pack cocktail arcade cabinet kit, stick that in there with a monitor, and spend a few days wiring in arcade joysticks and buttons too, but there's no reason I could have made a retro Pi-top with ZX Spectrum games, a mini Pi handheld battery powered console with some Amiga titles or whatever else I can think of.

      I love my Speccy. I still have three of them. But getting them to work is infinitely more frustrating in the modern age than even the dodgiest of RAM packs or PSU from back in the day. If I want nostalgia, I fire up an emulator.

      Anyone fancy a four-player game of Warlords in a few months time when I've found a bunch of suitable trackballs and put the cabinet together?

      1. iron Silver badge

        @ Lee D

        If you've got a spare pair of paddles I'll give you a 4 player game of Warlords right now on my still working Atari 2600 and the CRT TV I keep specially for it and my old 48k Speccy.

      2. AS1

        Re: It's getting boring now...

        "Anyone fancy a four-player game of Warlords in a few months time when I've found a bunch of suitable trackballs and put the cabinet together?"

        You could post an IndieGoGo campaign for that ;)

    2. wallisoft

      Re: It's getting boring now...

      the pi ?

  6. Neil 32

    And yet this morning there has been a campaign update to say first shipments will happen between May 8th and 12th. Of course, given the track record on dates, this still has a fair old amount of sodium chloride being held over it, but the optimist in me is trying to be positive.

    But strange how bad news against the company seems to trigger (so far worthless) promises of progress.

    1. John70

      I wouldn't be surprised if Levy & Martin used this shareholder's meeting (or is it haters meeting) to "delay the shipments" again.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Seems odd that they've suddenly sent a "we're shipping" message and opened an online shop on the very same day that this is happening.

        Last chance to grab some cash?

      2. Steve McGuinness

        If I was entirely cynical (and I am), I would say that they will string the process out, oppose any attempts to remove them, go through the court system if possible to prevent themselves being removed, sue the company if it does successfully remove them, and generally do whatever they can to avoid being disqualified as directors due to their conduct.

        This company will be dead in a year, but the lawyers will be feasting on its corpse for the next 2-3 years.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: "between May 8th and 12th"

      Of what year ?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "between May 8th and 12th"

        "Of what year ?"

        And how many?

  7. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    The cavalry arrives

    The best thing to come out of this may be that whoever takes charge will look at the books and quickly reveal how things actually are.

    But we should not forget these shareholders appear to have done fuck all until now to end the fiasco.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "But we should not forget these shareholders appear to have done fuck all until now to end the fiasco."

      That, and we should keep in mind where their true loyalties lie. And isn't that first and foremost to secure their own revenue?

      The way I see it there are multiple ways of doing so, and some don't necessarily have to involve rebooting the company to get some actual production going.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: @Jason

        ^What ShelLuser said^

        Also keep in mind moves like this made by shareholders more often than not are made not to get products shipped or to the advantage of the customer. They're almost universally made to either kill the prey or pick the carcass bare. Do NOT make the mistake of assuming the shareholders are in it to secure the future of the company, they might potentially have more to gain by stripping every last dime of value before the court orders for reimbursements come rolling in.

  8. wolfetone Silver badge

    Why has it taken the 75% of the shareholders so long to take this action? This should've happened 18 months ago at least. And surely they'd have seen the accounts before being filed to Companies House?

    It always struck me as odd that we only ever really heard about/from Levy, and not Sinclair Research Ltd and the other shareholders. If you've got time, money, or your name invested in a company being run so abhorrently as RCL have been, surely you'd speak up way sooner than now?

    1. Absent

      I think it possibly took until Clive Sinclair was persuaded.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why has it taken the 75% of the shareholders so long to take this action? This should've happened 18 months ago at least. And surely they'd have seen the accounts before being filed to Companies House?

      As a general rule, no they wouldn't have advance sight of accounts before filing unless they were "insiders" to the company, such as a shareholder who is also either a director or manager. As an (essentially passive) investor in a limited liability company, you collectively get to appoint or remove the directors, but you don't usually get to see anything that the management don't want you to see, and except in exceptional circumstances you'd not have any right to. If you're a shareholder and you want that visibility, you make yourself a director.

      Your argument that investors should have acted early is not necessarily a bad one, but as the shareholders were nominally responsible for appointing the directors in the first place (or buying into the company with them in place), it doesn't make sense to act precipitately. Look at those dismal football clubs that have vast turnover of managers, because they always dump them at the first run of lost matches - and yet they never do seem to appoint that winner who'll take them to Wembley. For better or worse, if you do ever want to win you do need to give the management time to perform, and when you're very clear that any change has to be better, that's the time to take the risk of change.

      With the benefit of hindsight we might conclude they were wrong, but I don't think the shareholders were remiss in not acting earlier, given that it is now still only two years from the original invitation to crowdfund the Vega Plus.

  9. The Nazz

    Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more Guv

    I find this to be an interesting comment, and phraseology :

    "The Register has seen a copy of what are alleged to be RCL's bank statements, as lodged at Luton County Court during a case against the company, the contents of which make an interesting comparison to RCL's Companies House filings."

    An interesting comparison indeed. Popcorn on standby.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more Guv

      The Companies House filing of "Micro company accounts" from just a couple of weeks ago report they have £433,008 as capital and reserves. No idea what their bank statements show.

    2. Steve McGuinness

      Re: Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more Guv

      I do believe filing incorrect accounts (knowingly) is a criminal offence. That should be interesting if the courts have one version and Companies House have another.

      That said, it could be argued successfully that one is an interim set of accounts, and one is the verified set of accounts, etc etc. There is a ton of wiggle room here legally.

    3. jonathan keith

      Re: Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more Guv

      That sounds like a gateway to a world of shit.

      Popcorn delivered to my upwind vantage point, please.

  10. SeanR


    Nothing RCL have done to date convinces me that they'll deliver the actual finished product, that was backed, to the any of the disgruntled backers, "between the 8th and 12th May 2018"

    and a "limited release" doesn't count.

    they've had 2 years

    they've had half a million pounds

    I do not believe they have the means to deliver 5000 ZX Vega + in the next two weeks.

    (leaked (but verified) bank statements, lack of PEGI, RoHS, Roll of honour, and games list aside, obviously)

    1. Spartacus Mills

      Re: #notmyzxvegaplus

      I agree... if the machine was a finished article ready to ship then they'd be plastering indigogo with pics, vids and whatnot, bragging like crazy.

  11. GtBFilms


    Odd grasp of chronology: "Earlier this week we quietly advised on social media that we had good news..."

    as far as I can see, this announcement only appeared on social media at half past ten this morning. The original Register article appeared at 09:47.

    Depending on which came first, the shareholders revolt could be an attempt to derail delivery OR just a convenient excuse.

  12. SpammFreeEmail

    Why has no-one spotted,.....

    ........that if they do ship, even by May 12th. They are not obliged to call the shareholders meeting till after that date.

    What the shareholders, who want to call the meeting, should have done was issue the formal shareholders notice themselves....who's advising them on Company Law?

  13. Dominion


    If it's true that these are going to be shipping, then someone somewhere must be able to corroborate that they are actually being manufactured?

    All that Levy, Martin etc need to do is confirm where so that it can be independently verified? Put it to them el Reg ?

  14. Spartacus Mills

    On their update to backers in March 2017 they said:

    "We’ll have games details coming soon too… stay tuned."

    as of now April 2018, has a single game actually been confirmed to be on the Vega+? serious question. If not then how the frig can it be ready to ship? (a gameless games machine, very postmodern...)

  15. John70

    Updated at 1249 BST to add: David Levy, chairman of RCL, has been in touch with this statement: <bullshit><snipped /></bullshit>

    Levy/Martin only seem to make statements when the shit is about to hit the fan...

    Will this be the excuse for delaying deliveries? "The only interpretation of this statement can only be that Andrews planned to stop delivery."

  16. SeanR

    "the list of 1000 games will be revealed 01/05/2018"

    according to a post on the official FB group, which begs the questions:

    the list isn't finalised?

    hasn't been submitted for PEGI rating?

    can't be partially divulged?

    they're useless at marketing?

    if i had a product ready to go in two weeks id be:

    showing the device (not a render)

    showing the box (and listing the contents)

    listing the games (at least list a few heavy hitters, 'and many many more')

    sending out press units (with no embargo)

    getting RoHS and PEGI sorted

    1. wallisoft

      the pi or cheaper equivalent ?

    2. SeanR

      shocked, i tell you!

      In news that will surprise no one, the release of the games list has been pushed back to Friday the 4th of May. Between 5pm and 6pm.

      Hopefully this year...

  17. Horaced

    Uh, bye!

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