A startup built by ex-Apple engineers that raised $US50 million (£39 million) to build automotive tech has shut down, according to a report from Axios’ Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.
Pearl Automation’s flagship product was Pearl RearVision, a digital rearview camera that the user attached to their licence plate and viewed via their smartphone.
But sales were reportedly poor, and costs were high, and the company has now apparently shut down.
The firm did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. Its website remains online, but all its inventory (the Pearl RearVision and the Pearl Phone Mount) are currently listed as out of stock.
The company is led by three ex-Apple engineers, and it came out of “stealth mode” (when a company deliberately avoids all publicity at the start of its life) in June 2016. As of January 2017, it had 70 employees — 50 of which used to work at Apple.
It had raised $US50 million in a Series A funding round in June 2016, according to its profile on Crunchbase, with investors including Accel Partners, Shasta Ventures, Venrock, and Wellcome Trust.
The RearVision sold for $US499 (£392) in the US — not cheap, but cheaper than the alternative, the company argued in marketing materials. It “sounds like a lot until you back into a Harley [Davidson motorcycle],” it said. “Until now, getting a quality backup camera installed would set you back thousands of dollars. And even that would be worth it compared to the repair bills that come with one teeny, tiny fender bender.”
Axios also reports the company was approached by (unnamed) outside companies about a potential “acqui-hire” offers — an acquisition focused on the team as much as the product itself — but chose not to.
CEO Bryson Gardner told Business Insider in September that the RearView was only the first in a planned set of tech accessories intended to augment traditional cars — but it looks like they will now never come to fruition.