Steorn Liquidates

Ten years after introducing itself to the world with an ad in the economist that claimed they’d discovered a way to defy the laws of physics and provide unlimited free energy, Steorn has announced that they’ve laid off their staff, and are liquidating their assets and winding up the company.

This was reported in today’s issue of Ireland’s Sunday Business Post. The online article is behind a paywall but the print version can be viewed here:

Sunday Business Post article on Steorn liquidation (click to enlarge)

Sunday Business Post article on Steorn liquidation.

Former CEO Shaun McCarthy said of Steorn’s investors, “We took their money. We raised their expectations and it fell flat on its fucking face. They’ve a right to be angry about that.” McCarthy has moved on to a career as a professional online poker player. “Oh, I’m unemployable. The general perception is (that I’m either) a con man or an idiot because clearly the tech can’t work.” McCarthy maintains that there is value in the Orbo technology, and hopes the liquidation process will lead to a bidding war.

It looks like this may finally be the end of the road for Steorn and Orbo. Is it also the end of the story? Will we ever find out what the truth was behind their grand claims and spectacular failures? Maybe one day we’ll hear the story from the perspective of an ex-employee. (If there are any reading this, drop me a line — a lot of people would like to know your take on Steorn’s history. You can remain anonymous if you’d prefer.)

Was Steorn a con? There’s no indication that the 23 million Euros invested in the company over ten years was directed toward anything but the company’s expenses, so no reason to think anyone got rich off this. If it was a con, my guess is that it was about satisfying an addiction to high stakes bluffing on Shaun McCarthy’s part, rather than running off with a fortune. Was it all a mistake? With so many engineers involved over the course of a decade, it’s hard to imagine how such a mistake could be missed for so long. On the other hand their attempt at a product launch several months ago showed such a complete lack of proper testing ahead of time, that who knows? Finally, were they actually on to something? There were very few people outside the company who ever saw evidence that convinced them of that.

For now this seems to be the end of this long strange ride. It leaves me with the feeling of reading a thick and fascinating novel, only to find that my copy is missing the final chapter. If I find out anything further about what really took place behind Steorn’s doors, you’ll find it here. Thank you all for reading.

13 thoughts on “Steorn Liquidates

  1. Does the demise of Steorn mean that those famous ironclad NDAs are no longer enforceable? If you see what I mean, and I think you do…

  2. In June 2016, the company informed shareholders that it had failed to meet expectations (ROFL!) that company founder Shaun McCarthy was being replaced as CEO, and that operating costs were nearly €1 million (AU$1.3 million) per year. This was apparently confirmed by McCarthy’s own admission at the time, and raises the obvious question: Where did the other AU$2 million, averaged per year, go?

    McCarthy’s lies—well, the more blatant ones at least—began 10 months ago when he said that he was awaiting the first shipment of the two products, the Orbo Phone and the Orbo Cube, sourced from an unnamed manufacturer in China.

  3. So McCarthy effectively conned AU$3.3 million from “investors” each and every year for a decade? Could this possibly be the largest financial fraud ever perpetrated by one, single individual?

    I don’t believe for a nanosecond that McCarthy pumped these millions into the Orbo company, and it’d be naive for the Irish Revenue Commissioners not to chase the guy down for unpaid company taxes, at the very least.

    • The investors never really held McCarthy’s feet to the fire. Despite outsiders extreme suspicion on their old forum that he was lying did the investors not take heed? He claimed at the outset that the tech had been vetted by 8 universities. Did the investors not think to check with them on the veracity of that claim? When the first iteration of Orbo failed at Kinetica did that not raise their concerns? When the hand picked jury gave their final negative deliberation did they not start doubting the claim. Did they not request a personal demonstration of the tech? it sounds to me that they allowed themselves to be fleeced or “Shorn by Shaun” as it were. So no pity for them as they never really did due diligence.


  5. Perhaps next time a group of scientists you put together tells you technology doesnt work, believe them. Also run the group before spending $50,000 on an advert.

    • It’s something else. To convince so man people to give so much money to something that could never work. Funny thing is, had they got more money they would have just gone on and on. Yet would never have managed to make anything that works.

      All this time and they never sold one product.

      But I made a serious offer to buy one for €10. That is a serious offer. Even if it does not work. I would like to be Steorn’s first (and only) customer.

  6. So Shaun, if you are reading this I’ll buy one of your cubes off you for a tenner (if you throw in a free Orbo T-Shirt as well). Serious offer. I’ll even pick it up.

    I can’t see a ‘bidding war’ happening for technology that does not work. And looking at the pics of your messy office, I’m not sure there is anything there worth much.

    So, do we have a deal?

  7. Surprise, surprise!

    After all this time – it does not work!! Who would have thought it!! It does not work. Well I guess we always knew it.

    It’s amazing it took so long. They really managed to string that out. That in itself if an achievement.

    I wonder not if I could buy one of those power cubes for a tenner. Would be a nice paper weight.

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