San Francisco, California-based robotics company Anki is shutting down.
Recode reports that Anki, which is behind the smartphone-controlled toy race car set, Anki Overdrive and robot toys Cozmo and Vector, is terminating all of its nearly 200 employees. The news was delivered to the company’s staff by Anki CEO Boris Sofman earlier today on Wednesday, April 29th.
Employees were reportedly told just days ago that Anki was looking for additional funding following a round of financing that fell through. Anki has raised more than $200 million USD in venture funding from various investors like Index Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.
The company, which was founded by Carnegie Mellon roboticists, stated that it earned $100 million back in 2017. Last August Anki stated that it sold 1.5 million toys across all of its products. Anki Drive, the predecessor to Anki Overdrive and the company’s first product, was released back in 2013.
In a statement to Recode, a spokesperson from Anki said the following regarding the company’s closure:
“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.”
Vector, the tiny robot that Anki launched back in 2018, was recently updated with Amazon Alexa voice-activated assistant integration.
While many of the company’s products — particularly the standalone robot Vector — are undeniably technical achievements, they’re also limited in what they’re capable of actually doing. I had a great time playing around with both Vector and Cozmo, but once I’d tested all of the toys’ mini-games and various tricks, they sat collecting dust on my shelf.
Given the pricey toys are aimed at children this likely proved to be an issue for Anki.