Data Science Investment Counter —Funding raised by UK data science companies in 2018.
£ 5.640 Million

Anki, the startup that made little AI robots, is shutting down after raising more than $200m


Anki, a San Francisco-based startup famous for artificial intelligence robotic products such as Vector, Cozmo, and AnkiDrive, is allegedly closing down after failing to secure further funding.

Despite raising around $200 million in venture capital since its creation nine years ago, the company would have run out of funds after a potential deal failed on Monday.

“It is with a heavy heart to announce that Anki will be letting go of our employees, effective Wednesday,” Anki said in a statement commenting on the news.

“A significant financial deal at a late stage fell through with a strategic investor and we were not able to reach an agreement,” they added.

Anki claimed to have sold 6.5 million devices overall, and 1.5 million robots last August alone. In fall 2018, the company announced that revenue was close to $100 million in 2017, a figure they expected to surpass the subsequent year.

“Despite our past successes, we pursued every financial avenue to fund our future product development and expand on our platforms,” a company spokesperson told Recode.

“[We were left] without significant funding to support a hardware and software business and bridge to our long-term product roadmap … 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.”

Anki was founded in 2010 by roboticists Mark Palatucci, Sofman, and Hanns Tappeinerfrom Carnegie Mellon University.

Their mission was to “bring artificial intelligence and robotics into [users’] daily lives”. And they pursued this goal by firstly releasing their smartphone-controlled car set Anki Drive, which was shown officially at Apple’s 2013 WorldWide Developer Conference. The company later became a retail partner of Apple and shortly after introduced several Anki Drive accessories.

The news follows the closing of Bosch-backed startup Mayfield Robotics, which was developing a larger, $700-priced home robot dubbed Kuri. Another robotics company, Jibo, which had created a social robot featuring a bespoke conversational assistant, also shut down earlier this year.

The company’s latest flagship product showed real potential for introducing robotics into the average user’s daily life. It was called Cozmo, and it was a  toy robot with anthropomorphic features that you could control, play games with, and even program yourself.

Anki then also releases Vector, a more advanced version of the robot that they hoped they could use to target not kids anymore, but older customers. Neither product, it would seem, was enough to keep Anki alive in the end.

Image via Max Pixel.

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