Doppler Labs, the startup that raised $50 million in funding and launched the Here One earbuds in February, is shutting down.
The Here One earbuds was released as an amazing piece of technology and a viable alternative to the Apple AirPods. However, despite the device in its portfolio and millions in venture funding, Doppler Labs is waving goodbye just several months later.
Doppler Labs Shuts Down: What Happened?
Doppler Labs founder Noah Kraft, in an in-depth interview with Wired, revealed that the startup was left scrambling for cash after preliminary meetings for a possible takeover by the "big five" tech companies, namely Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft did not pan out well.
The startup was in such a position due to the Here One earbuds. Doppler Labs entered early in the wireless earbuds space, with a 2015 Kickstarter campaign for an earlier product that blocks off unwanted sounds raising $635,000. The Here One earbuds, its latest product, was a viable Apple AirPods alternative that also gave its wearers the ability to do things such as eliminate ambient sounds while still being able to listen to a conversation.
Unfortunately, Here One was dragged down by delays, and the wireless earbuds never took off due to its paltry battery life of only a couple of hours. The Here One earbuds only sold 25,000 units, far below expected sales of over 100,000 units.
However, looking back, Kraft said that Doppler Labs only made one crucial mistake.
"We f*****g started a hardware business! There's nothing else to talk about. We shouldn't have done that," he said.
Doppler Labs Lives On
Doppler Labs, the startup, may have reached the end of the line, but the company hopes that it will leave behind a legacy that will last for much longer.
In a farewell post on LinkedIn, Doppler Labs' vice president of advocacy and accessibility, KR Liu, wrote that the company is proud to be "change-makers" through starting a movement for technology that did not focus on disabilities, but rather on enhancing abilities.
According to Liu, the market for hearable computers will soon grow well enough to be added to the mainstream, as Google and Apple, with their Pixel Buds and AirPods, invest in making their products even smarter.
"My hope is that what Doppler has created doesn't die," Liu said. While the name of Doppler Labs will likely soon be forgotten in the quickly changing landscape of the technology industry, the benefits of the hearing technology that it started working on will surely be felt for generations to come.