Andy Rubin is switching from software back to hardware. After spending nearly a decade building the world's most popular mobile operating system, the Android creator is now going to be helping support hardware startups, with his new incubator, Playground Global.

The incubator, based in Los Altos, Calif., has raised $48 million from Google, HP, Redpoint Ventures, Tencent Holdings, electronics manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (known as Foxconn) and others, according to an SEC filing. Prior to founding Android in 2004, Rubin developed a number of early mobile devices in the '90s.

Unlike most incubators, Playground won't be supplying any funding to startups. Instead, Rubin's company will offer advice and inroads in manufacturing to the young companies in exchange for equity. Rubin told the Wall Street Journal that he chose his investors carefully not just for their funding but specifically for the skills and advice they could provide to young hardware companies.

Foxconn will help startups manufacture products on scale and will have engineers and product experts on hand to help Playground participants. Hewlett-Packard will help with global distribution whilst Google, Tencent and Seagate Technology will provide cloud services. Venture capital firm Redpoint is involved to offer financing advice but won't have any exclusive investment rights in the burgeoning businesses.

Playground will take care of business functions such as manufacturing, distribution and financing for entrepreneurs before they go to market, allowing the inventors more time to focus on building new products. "Our aim is to free the creators to create," said Rubin. "By bringing these partners to the table we can remove many of the roadblocks of bringing a great idea to market."

Rubin outlined how he believes big technology ecosystems emerge every 20 years or so and that hardware will drive future ecosystems. "I will have one foot on the lily pad of mobile and one foot on the future, and I can jump forward when the next ecosystem emerges," he said.

When Rubin left Google late in 2014 he approached Redpoint partner Jeff Brody with the idea and the VC firm became the first investor. As part of the deal Rubin will join Redpoint as a venture partner and spend one day a week at the firm. The Android creator didn't reveal what proportion of the $48 million came from Redpoint or any of the other investors.

Rubin left Google in November 2014 shortly after starting a robotics unit called Replicant which was a throwback to his hardware roots. He worked at Apple in the early '90s and then moved to General Magic, which was trying to develop a handheld device. He founded Danger in 1999 and produced an early smartphone called Sidekick. His focus then switched to software when he started Android in 2004. Google bought him out a year later but he remained at the helm of the operating system until 2013.  

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