No one ever said consumer robots were easy. But Anki’s actually made a pretty strong go of it, all things considered. After wowing the world at Apple’s 2013 WWDC keynote with its Drive cars, the company went all in on robotics, first with Cozmo, then Vector.
After earlier reports of an understandably emotion Monday morning staff meeting lead by CEO Boris Sofman, the company has confirmed with TechCrunch that it will be letting go of its staff, effective later this week. Here’s the full statement,
It is with a heavy heart to announce that Anki will be letting go of our employees, effective Wednesday. We’ve shipped millions of units of product and left customers happy all over the world while building some of the most incredible technologies pointed toward a future with diverse AI and robotics driven applications. But without significant funding to support a hardware and software business and bridge to our long-term product roadmap, it is simply not feasible at this time.
Despite our past successes, we pursued every financial avenue to fund our future product development and expand on our platforms. A significant financial deal at a late stage fell through with a strategic investor and we were not able to reach an agreement. We’re doing our best to take care of every single employee and their families, and our management team continues to explore all options available.
We’ve reached out for further specifics regarding what, if any, future there is the company. Anki built several compelling products, most notably Cozmo, which turned into a big holiday hit. As of last August, the Bay Area-based startup told us that it had sold 1.5 million robots since its inception, including “hundreds of thousands” of Cozmo models.
Over the course of its life, the company raised $182 million, according to Crunchbase. It was clearly spending quite a bit as well, having hired composers and former Pixar and Dreamworks animators to more fully realize the personality of Cozmo and its more adult-focused followup, Vector.
The final details closely echo the story of recently shuttered industrial robotics company Rethink, along with fellow home robot, Kuri, both of which ultimately failed to find either an investor or buy to keep the dream alive. Sadly, it’s become a fairly familiar story in the world of robotics startups.
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