Andy Rubin, the creator of Android who just launched his new gadget company Essential this week, would have had a lot more money to get things moving if it hadn’t been for Apple.
As the Wall Street Journal reported in March, Essential was on the verge of landing $US100 million in funding from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, a $US100 billion pool of money aimed at investing in technology companies. But the deal fell through due to a conflict of interest.
In an on-stage interview at the Recode Code conference on Tuesday night, Rubin essentially confirmed the WSJ story, saying that a conflict of interest with one of the Vision Fund’s contributors caused the deal to fall through. He said the conflict would have put Essential in a position where a competitor owned part of his startup, and neither party wanted that.
The likely competitor Rubin was referring to? Apple. This year, Apple announced it would contribute $US1 billion to the Vision Fund. (The WSJ report said the deal fell through over SoftBank’s “close” relationship with Apple.) And since Rubin is pitching his company as the next major gadget company since Apple, thanks to his new smartphone and suite of gizmos he plans to build around it, that just didn’t fly.
But it sounds like Essential has plenty of cash. Rubin’s own investment firm Playground Global contributed to a $US30 million round of funding. And Rubin implied during Thursday’s interview that Essential has tens of millions more from other investors, although he didn’t disclose how much he has raised.