Tag Archives: bankruptcy

HumanCharger: Indiegogo campaign fails, last investor pulls out

Valkee (alias HumanCharger) has had a single foreign investor since 2013: Merieux Developpement, which financed the earlight company together with Lifeline Ventures and the finnish tax payer. As the co-lead investor, Merieux Dev. had its partner Valerie Calenda on Valkee’s board. Until now.

 

According to the trade register, Calenda has resigned from the board recently. Merieux Equity Partners, which holds the active investments of Merieux Dev., no longer lists Valkee on its portfolio pages. From the french investor’s “regional partners” category disappeared Seppo Mäkinen, former Sitra director, and probably the person who lured Merieux Dev. into this adventure.

 

There is no explanation other than Merieux has backed off and written down its multi-million loss. Now Valkee’s HumanCharger operations are completely controlled by its own folks: the CEO Aki Backman, the inventor Juuso Nissilä, and Timo Ahopelto.

The struggling company had high expectations for their follow-up product to the old LED headset: The HumanCharger Wireless Headset, an ugly and hard-to-wear bluetooth device. It launched an Indiegogo campaign, which looks like a complete desaster already.

 

Featured prominently at reddit/shittykickstarters, people aren’t buying it for half the price.

One backer has left a positive comment, looks like here’s really an impressed user.

 

It’s Timo Ahopelto, the company’s chairman, who felt the urgent need to push his product. Probably it won’t help.

Space Nation resurfaced in the U.S.

The former Space Nation enterprise folded in Finland in November 2018, leaving investors with a damage of more than 5 million Euro. The liquidation has been canceled, as the company’s assets do not even cover the cost of the process. It will simply be struck off the business register.

Nevertheless, the “space tourism company” announced that it was “restructured and reestablished in the US”, having “set up mission control in the country that created the Apollo Program on this 50th anniversary year of the first Moon Landing.”

To say it in their annoying way of calling everything stellar and spacy, it looks to me merely like a worm hole.

The address above is from their incorporation document in Denver, Colorado. It has a post box in downtown Denver and a share capital of US$1100.

 

Konkurssi raukeaa – Ei se mitään, SpaceNation jatkaa USA:ssa

Avaruuskonkurssiyhtiöstä Space Nation aka Cohu Experience Oy tuli viime kuussa kaksi ilmoitusta. Ensin Privanet kertoi, että konkurssi raukeaa, koska varoja ei riitä edes konkurssimenettelyyn. Tämä ei ole yllätys, yhtiöllä ei koskaan ollut substanssia. Vain heikko bisnesidea ja medianäkyvyyttä.

 

Sitten yhtiö ilmoitti, että sen toiminta jatkaa Yhdysvalloissa. Space Nation olisi rekisteröity uutena firmana. Siitä kertoi sen johtohahmo, islantilainen PR-mies Hjörtur Smárason, joka nimellä PolarExpress myös laittanut Wikipediaan firmaa kehuvan artikkelin.

Outo seikka: “Uusi firma” käyttää entisen suomalaisyhtiön nettisivua, niin kuin se kuuluisi sille. Itse asiassa tämä pitäisi olla osa konkurssipesää, ja on todennäköisesti entisen yhtiön ainoa omaisuus, jolla on vielä jonkinlaista arvoa. Se on edelleen rekisteröity Helsinkiin, Cohu/Space Nationin kotiosoitteeseen.

Yritin löytää “uusi Space Nation” USA:n osavaltioiden kaupparekistereistä, jopa SEC:n listoilta. Tuloksetta. Ei ole varmuutta siis, puhuuko tämä mainosmies totta. Toisesta asiasta olen varma: Heidän astronauttivalepuvuissa ihan jokainen näyttää idiotilta hassulta.

HumanCharger-Valkee’s balance 2019: Guess what?

Finnish Valkee Ltd, maker of the questionable HumanCharger earlight device, has just filed its 2018-2019 balance. It’s the same as every year: Overwhelming loss and now again a sharp drop in revenue.

And as every year, earlightswindle.com makes it available.

Valkee balance 2/2019 (valkee2019.pdf)

Turnover has fallen by 34%, thus eliminating last years somewhat surprising rise. It’s now 637.000€, i.e. even less than in 2016/17. The effect of the US launch seems to level out. Good news for them: Loss is down to 594.000 Euro. But this means, that still every Euro turnover results in one Euro loss – as last year.

HR costs are down from 411.000 to 268.000€, and with (only) 226.000€ paid out, the question is who’s still employed by this company – besides its CEO and some salespersons.

Valkee is struggling to survive, as it did since 2007 – and now it became clear, how the project is “scaling”. It will exist as long as its investors are willing to pay. The plug may be pulled sooner or later.

That’s an enduring embarassment also for Interbrand, which really messed up by calling HumanCharger a “breakthrough brand” in 2017. The only thing that will break here will be the investors’ patience.

Over & out, as I leave this rather boring news piece to the snail media, Kauppalehti, HelsinginSanomat or whatever, for those laties who have not cancelled subscriptions yet.

Update 13.7.2019: Kauppalehti did as expected and translated this into finnish as “news”. Always welcome on my blog.

Space Nation comes full circle (updated)

“Space Nation konkurssi” Google suosittelee, kun etsii firmaa sieltä. Tuore tilinpäätös puhuu samaa kieltä.

As promised – here is the 5/2018 balance of “space tourism company” Space Nation Oy (formerly Cohu Experience Ltd) from Helsinki, Finland.

SpaceNation balance 2018 (PDF)

Initial sales from the Space Nation Navigator game app were negligible: Revenue was 4006€ (I predicted 4000). The overall result is a 2,9M€ loss (my prognosis 4-6M).

Of the 5,2 million given by crowdfunders and other private investors last year, 58.000 was left in May 2018. That is probably burned yet, also. The company owed 1,2M to banks and addtional 952K to suppliers. In the books are mainly immaterial rights and contracts – such as the (non-commercial) Space Act Agreement with NASA. No substance.

Now that’s clearly a serious situation, which explains the abrupt stopping of the “Astronaut Training program” in August. The app’s downloads have come to a standstill by October. It’s not far-fetched to expect the app disappear from the Google Play Store and Apple Store within 12 months, as it happened to Cohu Experience’s first app, CarbonToSoil.

In time for Slush 2018, Space Nation seems to come full circle where it started two years ago.

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UPDATE 19.11.2018:

After diving to €0,80 [ask], Space Nation shares were suspended “until further notice” from Privanet’s stock bazaar. The trade register – neither the company nor Privanet – informs about the probable reason.

Space Nation has issued new shares, possibly to pay expenses, at least 15 times since December 2017. These were now registered on Nov 15. Further diluting previous investors’ shares by 205.000, it brings the overall count to 1.708.793. Thus the theoretical valuation would now be well below €1,4M, but as no deals were registered in the last 2 months, it’s surely closer to zero than a million. Last year, Space Nation had predicted it to be one billion by now.

Space Nation Oy (Ltd), formerly Cohu Experience, has now announced to file for bancruptcy. It managed to burn multi-million investments in less than 2 years.

Valkee: Turnover up 50% – 1 million loss as usual (update)

Korvavalofirman tilinpäätös 2/2018 loppuneelta tilikaudelta tuli julki. Liikevaihdon odotettu 50% kasvu toteutui, summa on lähes sama kuin 2013/2014. Henkilöstömäärä laski kuuteen. Tasesumma puolittui. Tappio on silti saman verran kuin viime vuonna, yli miljoonaa. Firman kulut olivat edelleen €1,10 jokaista liikevaihtoeuroa kohden.

Kokonaistappio on siis virallisesti ylittänyt 10M€-rajan. Viime vuosien huimat pääomalainat, jotka pitivät firmaa juuri ja juuri elossa, on tilinpäätösasiakirjoissa s.8 ja 9. Suurin ongelma lienee se, että uudet laitteet pitäisi valmistaa tuoreella rahalla. Tällä hetkellä myynti on nolla. Tilintarkastaja arvioi että Valkee tarvitsee pääomalainojen lisäksi uutta rahoitusta jatkaakseen toimintansa.

Valkee Balance 2018 (PDF)

The finnish earlight manufacturer Valkee Ltd has grown sales of its HumanCharger device again by 50%. With only 6 employees (peaked at 21 in 2014), the company made still roughly the same loss as last year, over €1 million. It survived until now on capital shot in by previous investors as convertible loans, amounting to 2-3 million in 2 years. Ernst&Young’s accountants suspect, that Valkee won’t exist through the present fiscal year, unless it gets substantial funding in addition to such loans.

Valkee has given up on Finland, where the HumanCharger is considered a national embarrassment. Sales to US “biohackers” susceptible to all kinds of such scams and supplements go well, especially since earlightswindle.com was unlawfully removed from Google’s index* and there’s no independent information available. (I’ll do nothing about that until the content on the classic site is updated.)

Still, all independent research to date has demonstrated that the fake “light therapy” through the ear canal has only a placebo effect. The company’s budget does not allow for new marketing “research”, and it seems no evidence is needed to ensure international sales.

 

*the important static site with all the key information about the Valkee case (under earlightswindle.com/index.htm and else) was removed, while the blog is still visible.  It looks like the content URLs were removed manually.

UPDATE 21.9.2018:
earlightswindle.com is back in the Google index. It wasn’t me!

Valkee Humancharger shutdown – temporary or final?

This blog – as the previous earlightswindle.com – was once reporting exclusively about the multifaceted scamming activities of finnish company Valkee Ltd, maker of the fake “light therapy device” HumanCharger.

Now it seems they are finally phasing out of business. The company is technically bankrupt since March 2017, but now

The finnish trade register says, that in May 2018 the main shareholders LifeLine Ventures, Vera and Merieux forgave the company another 230.000€ convertible loan; i.e. was converted into worthless shares. The same happened to several other such loans during the last two years, rising the amount of burnt money to more than 10 million Euro.

The next months will now be decisive. I am looking forward and will inform as always.

Will a finnish startup “democratize space travel”?

After failing all previous deadlines, finnish cross-media startup Space Nation Oy (formerly Cohu Experience Oy) is set to launch its long-awaited app tomorrow, 7th April 2018. The best users are to take part in a reality-TV “astronaut boot camp” and, finally, one of them will go to space. At least, that’s the plan.

R3MP

The company promised high profits from the beginning and predicted a landslide success for their app, comparing it to Supercell’s Hay Day and Clash of Clans. But there are striking problems, which remained largely unclear to the crowdfunding investors that made the story possible.

 

The User Base

Gaming apps have different target groups and user base than Space Nation’s “astronaut training” app. Not everybody wants to go to space, and certainly it’s not even worth a try for most. Why should I take part in a contest I can’t win?

Me going to space?

Me going to space?

Space Nation promised several prizes and rewards to fix this. But is there a need for a “NASA-approved game app”?

 

No spaceflight, no TV rights

As I wrote before, there is no space flight in sight that would be available for Space Nation’s wannabe astronaut. Virgin Galactic has been “months away” from its first space tourist flight for more than a decade. SpaceX does not attempt manned flight in the near future, and BlueOrigin seems to be late still.

And what if there’d be really the possibility to send a reality-TV winner to space? That would mean, that space tourism is nothing special or interesting anymore. At a time when hundreds of fare-paying hobby astronauts did already go to space, a Space Nation candidate is just another civilian on a suborbital seat. The only difference is that he didn’t pay for the trip by himself.

 

Nothing won, nothing lost?

The probable course of events will be, that the app will generate some moderate income through in-app purchases. Micropayments will keep Space Nation Oy afloat for some time. The crowdfunders will not get their exorbitant returns, but if they are lucky, their losses may not be 100% of the investment.

The idea of financing a space trip through media rights is nothing new. The blueprint came from MarsOne, which is still existing (but failed). In the beginning, they managed to start a gigantic media hype – but they planned for something extreme, a mars mission. A several minutes suborbital flight, as promised by Space Nation, is not close to that in any way.

One thing seems clear already: Space Nation will hardly “democratize space flight“. That’s as if I’d promise to democratize wealth by means of a lottery. An illusion to keep users interested, as any lottery does by promising life-change through a jackpot win.

HumanCharger’s “global breakthrough” fake

Last autumn I came across a deceptive piece praising Valkee and its HumanCharger at goodnewsfinland.com (part of Finpro, a state-run agency). I complained to the editors about the fake news they spread, prompting them to delete most of the misinformation from the text. It took several weeks, and there is no mention of the changes in the article.

The diff is documented here, as a perfect example of how Valkee deceives others, which in turn deceive people about the HumanCharger.

fakenews1

The Interbrand report of 2017’s “breakthrough brands” was a marketing stunt for the HumanCharger. In the small print, the report admits that companies could submit themselves and their stories were not challenged (p. 61 in the PDF). An embarrassing glitch for Interbrand: They faithfully listed what Valkee said, although the company should not be even in there. The limit for inclusion was 10 years in business and the HumanCharger company was already older than 10 years – it was founded in February 2007, and the product is even older.

Then it gets absurd: Interbrand has never “valued HumanCharger’s brand at 64,67 million”. Impossible – it’s a known scam, and as such, a toxic brand in Finland and most of Europe. The 65 million was, back in 2013, the valuation, i.e. investors paid ~10 million for a 16% stake, which put the whole company in theory at 65 million.

This is fairly outdated. Valkee lost its share capital and is now worth Zero.

65 million x 0/share = 0

That the earlight does not work by “stimulating the brain” is clear, at least to everybody who had ever to do with neuroscience. Silently deleted.

fakenews2

The name of the notified body or its claimed image doesn’t tell anything about the earlight. It just looks better, when it’s in Germany. Changed.

Valkee’s CEO Aki Backman then claimed that the FDA somehow testified that HumanCharger is harmless. That’s a breathtaking misrepresentation. In reality, they could not provide evidence for the device’s health claims. Therefore it got no approval as a medical device, but fell in the underclass “General wellness” category. As such, the device cannot give any kind of (light) therapy despite misleading advertisements. Deleted.

 

“Breakthrough brand” is a struggling micro-business

The aging scam company meets the tight finnish criteria for a micro-business and is therefore exempt from certain standards in financial reporting. The firm uses this in its balances and managed to survive to this day – being technically bancrupt – as detailed in its 2/2017 balance. A mysterious person has recently pumped millions of private funds into Valkee, to keep it alive.

Earlightswindle.com makes the balances traditionally available to the public. Here it is.

Valkee-balance 2017 (PDF)

Valkee Ltd collapses as predicted: All share capital lost

UPDATE: My original story has reached more than 500.000 800.000 readers.
See ILTALEHTI | KAUPPALEHTI | TEKNIIKKA&TALOUS | ILTA-SANOMAT etc.pp.

The finnish trade register has just announced, that the HumanCharger manufacturer Valkee Ltd has lost all of its share capital. That means, that all of the company’s ressources are depleted, and new capital is not in sight – not even theoretically.

valkee-bankrupt

In other countries, the firm would have to file for immediate insolvency or bankruptcy, which is regulated in the same chapter of finnish corporate law.  In Finland, however, business could go on for a while – under extreme conditions, as purchases must all be paid in advance, and credits are stroke off. All business partners are now informed officially, that Valkee cannot fulfil upcoming liabilities.

Because of the consequences, such a notification is usually done in the least possible moment. It may be driven by the fact, that management and owners can be held liable personally from now on, if they don’t declare the final state publicly.

If anyone has claims against Valkee Ltd, now is the time to demand.

Personally I think, that the company will exist on paper for a few months, until its chairman Timo Ahopelto resigns from the board of TEKES, Finland’s tax-financed innovation funding agency. TEKES has shot in more than 100.000€ last year into Valkee, despite the obviously desperate state of the company, which was strictly documented in the 2016 balance.

Probably it’s the political dimension of the case. The snail media will report more soon. The source is earlightswindle.com – just in case they “forget” it again. /-Ed.