Zano mini-drone project shut down by Torquing

By Chris Baraniuk
Technology reporter

image copyrightTorquing
image captionOver £2m was provided by more than 12,000 backers

The beleaguered Zano mini-drone project, which was Europe's most successful Kickstarter idea, has been shut down by the company behind it.

Torquing Group released a statement to backers of the project, saying it had decided to pursue a "creditors' voluntary liquidation".

The project was known to be in trouble, despite having raised over £2m.

Creditors will be contacted by an insolvency practitioner, according to a message sent to them by Torquing.

"Having explored all options known to us, and after seeking professional advice, we have made the difficult decision to pursue a creditors' voluntary liquidation," the message states.

"We are greatly disappointed with the outcome of the Zano project, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us during this difficult period, especially our loyal employees, whose commitment has exceeded all expectations."

Thousands of people who invested in the project via Kickstarter will not now receive the device they had paid to support.

Trouble for Torquing

Torquing chief executive Ivan Reedman resigned last week due to "personal health issues and irreconcilable differences", according to a comment he left on a Zano forum.

It followed another hiccup in June, when Torquing missed a deadline to distribute drones to backers waiting to receive the product.

image captionThe Zano was already in production, but had not been distributed to backers

Zano drones were already in production and were designed to be controllable via a smartphone app.

The device would also have been able to follow users as they moved around outdoors, though the function was not working fully when the BBC visited Torquing in August.

Disappointed backers

One of the backers told the BBC he had invested £164 in Zano in November 2014.

"Even up until a few weeks ago, we were getting emails saying the first 7,000 Zanos were nearly ready to be dispatched," he said.

"It's unfortunate to see Europe's most successful Kickstarter campaign... implode quite so spectacularly, particularly so close to them finally shipping."

Another, Sandro Ruch, said he had invested a couple of hundred dollars and was particularly disappointed with how Torquing had communicated with backers of the project in recent months.

"That was the main thing, the main point that upsets me today because it's a question of investor expectation management," he told the BBC.

The news has already been met with consternation by backers on social networks.

"I want my money back!" wrote one, on the Zano Facebook page.

No guarantees

A user on the Kickstarter page for the project added: "Being furious is an understatement!!! It was supposed to arrive in June, and now it is nearly six months later with this decision?!?!?"

"No more Kickstarter for me. Willing to pay more after the product hits the shelves," wrote another.

In a statement, Kickstarter said, "Creators on Kickstarter have a remarkable track record, but there are no guarantees that a project will work out.

"If a creator can't complete a project as promised, their contract with backers requires them to bring the project to the best possible conclusion, as detailed in our Terms of Use."

Torquing did not respond to a request for comment.

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