The Robin was a quirky smartphone that didn’t take off.
Nextbit, the upstart maker of the quirky Robin smartphone, has stopped selling the device and sold its assets to PC maker Razer.
Terms of the deal, which closed Friday, were not disclosed. However, CEO Tom Moss told Recode that all 30 employees were joining Razer to work on future mobile products as part of a new unit at the company, which historically has focused on PC games. Nextbit has also halted its own sales of the Robin, having sold out its last production run in January (some devices are still for sale on Amazon).
As for those who bought a Robin smartphone, Moss said Razer has agreed to offer hardware support for the next six months and software updates and support for 12 months.
That’s not great for Robin owners, but better than customers have fared in other asset sales, such as with Fitbit’s recent purchase of Pebble.
Nextbit didn’t begin life as a phone maker. It debuted at Code/Mobile in 2015 as a way for other device makers and carriers to offer cloud-based storage. Its pitch was that phone owners could conserve space by keeping photos and apps in the cloud.
The company quickly racked up more than $1 million in sales on Kickstarter, doubling its initial target. But in the months between when the Robin was announced and when it shipped last spring, the mid-range smartphone market grew crowded, attracting startups, established phone makers and, basically, everyone who wasn’t Apple or Samsung.
Nextbit also struggled to meet all its aspirations, eventually cancelling a planned version of Robin that would work on the networks of Sprint and Verizon.
Nextbit had raised nearly $18 million in funding from backers including Accel Partners and Alphabet’s GV. Whether the investors make their money back will depend on how Razer fares in an eventual IPO, according to a source, since the deal was an all-stock one.
Ever optimistic, CEO Tom Moss characterized the asset sale as a way for his team to have a greater impact.
“This is going to allow us to basically do what we want to do with a lot more resources at our disposal,” he said.
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Author: Ina Fried
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