The San Francisco-based company is most known for its smartphone-controlled toys, such as the Vector, a £249 small robot with a lift on the front. It's equipped with Alexa integration and some sensory hardware, including a laser scanner and camera, so it can interact with the environment. Vector followed the Cozmo, a similar-looking bot you could program and control. Anki once claimed it sold hundreds of thousands of Cozmo units.
Despite the success of Cozmo and Vector, CEO Boris Sofman has suddenly told employees the company is closing. About 200 people will lose their jobs this week and only get a week of severance. Anki, which has raised more than $200 million in venture capital funding, told Recode it lacked "significant funding to support a hardware and software business" and therefore couldn't follow through with its "long-term product roadmap".
The CEO explained: "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 contacted Anki for a comment and to learn more about whether any type of continuing support will be offered for the products that consumers have already bought, though we suspect these lovely robots may eventually become defunct and serve as pricey paperweights.
This all reminds us of Jibo. That cutesy, internet-connected home robot released in November 2017 after three years of crowdfunding and launch delays. In March, however, the servers running Jibo shut down, with little-to-no notice. It really makes you think about how, when you buy something, it can become a brick when the servers stop or software support dies. It's a warning sign to early adopters.