The consumer robotics market is a real challenge: just ask Anki

The consumer robotics market is a real challenge: just ask Anki article image

Anki, the company that makes Cozmo, Overdrive and Vector, has closed its doors, sending shockwaves through the consumer robotics market globally.

According to Recode, which first broke the story, a new round of financing fell through at the last minute and led to the San Francisco-based company closing down. According to Recode, Anki is laying off its entire staff of nearly 200 people.

“It is with a heavy heart to announce that Anki will be letting go of our employees, effective Wednesday,” Anki co-founder and CEO Boris Sofman said in a statement. “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.”

Losing Anki is a big blow to the consumer robotics market.

Big name investors

Anki said late last year it had made US$100 million in 2017 and was expecting to exceed that figure last year.

Anki, a startup robotics company, raised US$200m in venture capital, attracting some big name investors including JP Morgan and Two Sigma Ventures. The company grew rapidly with offices in the US, UK, Germany and France.

Anki launched its adorable toy robot Cozmo in Australia in 2017 along with its flagship product: Anki Overdrive – small futuristic robotic supercars competing on custom made tracks at breath taking speeds.   

These amazing products were the brainchild of three Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute graduates – Boris Sofman, Mark Palatucci and Hanns Tappeiner.

Over a few drinks at a Palo Alto restaurant in California the trio hatched their plan to make robots more accessible to consumers.

Cutting edge robotics

Their main goal was to bring robots from outside science labs into the family living room.

In 2010, they developed a successful prototype for the Overdrive supercars – and Anki, a cutting edge robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) company, was born.

The company attracted plenty of attention during Tim Cook’s keynote at Apple’s WorldWide Developer Conference in 2013.

Since then Anki said it had sold more than 1.5 million robots worldwide as of late 2018.

Anki’s long-term goal was to make more intelligent robots for homes, but it is unlikely it will now have a chance to do that.

Whether a late stage acquisition could save the company remains to be seen.



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