Hello, the San Francisco startup behind the Sense sleep ball that monitors your bedroom to optimise your sleep behaviours, is shutting down.
Hello had raised over $US40 million in venture capital from investors like former Google exec Hugo Barra, Facebook exec and former PayPal president David Marcus, and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.
James Proud, founder and CEO of Hello, announced the news in a Medium post.
“It’s with a heavy heart that I share with you the news that Hello will soon be shutting down,” Proud said. “The past few weeks we have been working hard to find the right home for Sense and we are still focused on that. There will be lots of questions to which I don’t currently have the answers. As soon as I know, I will update everyone. I am sorry for not being able to answer every question immediately, but I will endeavour to do so as fast as possible.”
I was first introduced to Hello and its Sense ball around this time last year. I had just moved into a new apartment and was having trouble sleeping when I heard about this ball, which can monitor your bedroom environment, as well as your own sleeping habits, to give you a full analysis of your sleep patterns and suggest ways to improve your sleep quality.
Like Amazon Echo, another smart-home device I love, I really enjoyed the hands-off nature of the Sense system. You just plug the ball into a wall, place it on your nightstand, and attach a tiny quarter-sized button to your pillow that can monitor your movements. Then, you go to sleep. When you wake up, the Sense app on your phone will give you a beautiful analysis of your sleep, comparing it to past nights and even other users. It was a product that required minimal input, and I really liked that about Sense.
Late last year, Proud and the Hello team reached out to me to tell me about their second-generation Sense device, Sense with Voice. That new product would be able to give you more granular data about your sleep environment, but also work with voice commands (like the Echo) and other smart-home electronics you might own like Philips Hue lights.
At that point in time, it seemed like things were looking up at Hello. The company had a single focused product that was getting good buzz, and the team was working on ways to make that product even more useful for customers. Hello had even hired its first chief scientist — Matt Walker, a professor of sleep and neuroscience at Berkeley — to help the company develop new hardware and software. Hello had even decided to make the second-generation Sense device available in mass-market retailers like Best Buy and Target.
But in the six to seven months since that time, things must have taken a turn at Hello. It’s unclear exactly what happened — perhaps complications from manufacturing the new Sense with Voice ball — but it would be unfair to speculate. It’s a shame to see Proud disband his team at Hello, but here’s hoping he and those who worked on the Sense ball go on to create great things at their next gigs.
According to Axios, Hello has already laid off most of its 50+ employees and is looking for a buyer to sell of its remaining assets.
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