On Doppler Labs' downfall

Wired painted a very vivid story – as usual – of Doppler Labs' downfall. Like all Wired pieces, it's worth taking it with a grain of salt since there style always triumphs over mundane narratives. On the other hand, I found the piece brought out some things I've been advising hardware founders over and over again. Here's a paragraph from the article:

By the end of November it was clear the best thing for Doppler to do was prove that Here One could be a success. That presented its own challenges. They’d switched manufacturers, and a longer-than-expected wait for a component pushed mass production back from fall of 2016 to February of 2017. That meant Here One wouldn’t beat AirPods to market, or capitalize on the all-important holiday sales rush. And Doppler had to raise another $10 million just to get the product out the door.

While I do not have any insider information, it seems to me that the company treated manufacturer just like that, a manufacturer. Usually if a company chooses an EMS partner properly and has honest and frank collaboration, this kind of surprise won't happen, let alone switching manufacturers.

I might be reading too much into an otherwise good-read. But it's sad to see a company with real products and grand vision go down like this. It's also troublesome to me as an investor that, after raising more than $50M, the company could not ship meaning amount of .. earbuds. It's not even a robot. Remember that it took James Park and his team at Fitbit only $66M to hit IPO and surpassed $1B annual revenue. Something is really missing here.

For all my pieces on the best practices for startups to work with EMS firms, here's a collection:


On ICO as a funding source for startups

On raising from VCs