Lora DiCarlo, a sex tech startup that made headlines in 2019 after being blacklisted by the Consumer Electronics Show, appears to have shut down. The company’s website is offline and orders have reportedly not been fulfilled for months.
australiabusinessblog.com has reached out to the eponymous founder for confirmation, but it certainly seems like the end of the line for a briefly promising high-tech sex toy company.
Founded in 2017, Lora DiCarlo was part of a new wave of forward-thinking women-led sexual health companies. It won an innovation award at CES 2019 for, as our writer put it at the time, “a hands-free device that uses biomimicry and robotics to help women achieve mixed orgasms by simultaneously stimulating the G-spot and clitoris.”
But then the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES, withdrew the award and banned the company from exhibiting at the show. Their explanation at the time was that neither the company nor its devices “fit into any product category.”
Predictably, this drew immediate backlash and accusations of sexism, prudishness, and generally poor judgment. Everyone was on Lora DiCarlo’s side and the publicity was priceless, she later told australiabusinessblog.com at Disrupt, “I think they really did us a big favor.” The company raised $2 million around that time, and about $9 million in total over the company’s five years of existence.
But despite a big return to the show in 2020 (and, of course, a much-coveted TC+ feature), the company seems to have faltered during the pandemic – perhaps falling victim to the same chip shortages and manufacturing problems that even established hardware makers have encountered.
As reported by Women’s Health, the last few months seem to have been Lora DiCarlo’s last, as various aspects of a functioning commercial enterprise began to fail: orders failed to go out, supplies ran out at retail partners, and staff left. The site went offline earlier this month and is still unavailable. While there hasn’t been an official announcement, it certainly looks like the company is kaput.
It’s a shame, but finding success as a hardware startup is hard enough without a pandemic and the stigma on sex toys that linger. We will update this article if we hear from DiCarlo.