Boo! Haha! Scared ya!
Seriously, we're still here. We've been pretty quiet, even dark lately, so let me answer your questions.
Re: The Vortex, it's dead. Not long after we completed it, but before we launched it (or any product), we took one last hard look at it and the market. The market had changed. When we started working on it, we wanted to build a device that could stream any ecosystem such as Roon, JRiver, Audirvana, etc. That required building in four protocols (Roon, DLNA, UPnP, and Apple's) When we first showed it at AXPONA, we used it solely in a Roon environment, but the other protocols weren't in there yet. The Vortex line was compelling technology and a compelling product because nothing else was designed to do all of that. By the time we neared release, there were Raspberry Pi-based solutions, some rough, some solid, that could do them all. A Pi-based solution is a $35 board, with a case and a power supply. We looked at that and shook our head because how do you describe a product as high technology when a hobbyist can go on Amazon, buy the parts, snap them together, download a file and they are up and running? You don't even need any freaking tools or expertise. Other companies may feel like it's OK to overcharge you for products, but we promise to bring NEW technology into the market. We have good reputations for keeping our word. We didn't want to step out on that slippery slope and become one of the BS artists that plague the industry. So that's the story. Full disclosure, just like when we dumped MQA.
As for the company, well, we took a really hard look at the products, the industry and our roadmap and decided that the successors to the Comet and the Ion needed to step it up technology-wise and also do some different things. Having just learned a very painful lesson with the Vortex about prematurely launching a tech product, we decided to be very quiet about it. We have informed our dealers all around the world about our new roadmap but the details are on a close hold. (And yes, they too are frustrated that new products aren't out yet.) So, new stuff is coming but you are gonna have to be patient. Feel free to give poor Brian a call and provide him some comfort because we are making him absolutely crazy, too. And he's going to pull out all his hair because I'm writing this post. You know Sales Guys "Everything needs to be Rosy!"
As for the company, we're still here and still going. Covid hasn't been a help, redesigning a bunch of products almost from scratch with everyone working from home except under very rare times when they have to bring some hardware and software together. Re-positioning a company to deliver more appropriate products into a changed world also isn't easy. I won't lie, it's a minor miracle that were still here. And planning on changing-over a product line in 2020 with all of its unforeseen challenges was a decision that has been doubly frustrating with global shutdowns and tariff and trade wars affecting prices and deliveries of key components.
Because of the nature of our products, we use specialized contract manufacturers and when the US Gov't invoked the Defense Production Act, some of them had to come out of a cold shutdown and supply subassemblies for specialty medical devices like ventilators. (Minnesota is home to many medical device companies like Boston Scientific, Medtronic, etc.) Those things affect our supply chain and production chain. And no trade shows this year means less opportunities for us to engage with our customers which is mostly why you haven't run into any of us!
I'm not gonna lie to you, the combination of running down our inventory of Comets and Ions, developing new products, difficulties in getting them properly designed and built with Covid restrictions still in place, has been a huge financial burden. Revenue wise, this has been our worst year. And we have some cranky vendors that we've delayed payments to because we have had to manage our cash flow. So when you hear that rumor, I'll just tell you they are true. But running a company is a job where sometimes you get blood on your hands and if you're squeamish, you're in the wrong job. I only care about two things and they are tied in importance: Keeping the company alive and competitive, and selling our customers great and reliable products at a good price. That's it.
I'm sorry that it makes some of you a little fidgety and I'm really sorry that we've been quiet, probably too quiet for our own good. But there it is.