Building Things:

  • The startup Jibo, working on a robot helper for the home has announced another delay - putting their initial product shipments about 2 years out from the original plan. Complex hardware is difficult for even huge companies with deep benches of talent and solid vendors to execute successfully on (see Samsung's recent recall stumbles) so delays are the norm for startups. The more troubling complication the article mentions is that beta testers didn't seem to be able to find ways of interacting with the device that were especially useful or rewarding. Shipping late is forgivable, shipping an underwhelming first product is usually a death sentence for startups. Jibo would probably be in much better shape if Amazon's Echo products hadn't come along in the interim - we're guessing that Alexa takes care of 90% of the needs that something like Jibo (a fixed location robot) would do for a user.
  • The Brookings Institute with a report on why bringing manufacturing back is more of a time travel issue than a geographic one: automation is cheaper and technological advances mean more value produced with fewer jobs. In 1980 it took 25 employees to achieve $1MM in revenue in a manufacturing context; today the same amount can be generated by 5. 


Big Business: 

  • The consumer wearable technology market herd continues to thin - Intel is shutting down their wearable offering, the Basis Ruby. Considering we've never seen anyone wearing one, we're not that surprised. Building a compelling consumer product line or brand is among the most difficult business opportunities to pursue.


Feeding the Future: 


More next week.