Sphero, a robotic company once invested by Disney, layoffs: sales frustration | switch to education

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United States robot Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Colorado, startup company Sphero introduced a variety of smart robot toys, and formally entered the educational robotics industry in 2014 to launch the SPRK education program and received over $ 45 million in financing in 2015. It is worth Note that Disney is also on the investor list.
According to foreign media reports, last year, with the help of Disney, Sphero launched a series of products, including the "Star Wars" series of robots, Spider-Man and Lightning McQueen robots, but in last year's holiday sales, sales did not reach Expected recently, the company laid off 45 people worldwide, which may have affected the company's operation.
Although most of the laid-off workers are employees of its headquarters in Colorado, but also spread to the company's offices in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong.A spokesman said: 'The reason for the reorganization of team members on Friday, is to better meet our products When looking at product development plans for 2018 and beyond, our R & D direction will not be as diversified as before, so we have to change the team structure.
On the surface, this move is a step back for the company, but it is a small surprise to those who have been following developments.
Since joining the Disney Accelerator program in 2014, the company has made a small investment from Disney and began producing BB-8 robotics in 2015 in parallel with The Force Awakens.
In 2017 alone, the company launched BB-9E, the prototype robot in Star Wars: The Last Jedi Knight, based on R2D2 and won the toy rights to Spider-Man and Pixar's movie Cars. And the launch of a remote controlled ball Sphero Mini for under $ 50, which can be controlled from a smartphone.
In the meantime, Sphero has significantly increased its staff to meet the need to speed up production, which of course also shows why job cuts are so fast after the holiday season.
Although the layoff was not catastrophic for the company, the end result showed that the company needed to rethink future growth strategies and its spokesman said: 'Sales are not the ultimate goal and Sphero is still a startup It is now a crucial moment for the company's growth. '
The decline was unavoidable as the company extended a number of product lines by 2017 and added one or two products a year, and its spokesman said: 'For the company, this will be an opportunity for growth Although the company is still young, the continuing education that companies are continuing to invest in the company - run business also puts more emphasis on the field.
Through this reshuffle, Sphero shifted more of its existing resources to education, and before that the company had put a lot of effort into education, using its hardware-based design specifically for school research and development However, so far, the company's development in this area has been deviated from its original development strategy.
In the field of educational robotics, the competition is fierce, especially in STEM and STEAM. At last week's CES exhibition, companies of all sizes competed to display a variety of educational robot platforms. As can be seen, Toy Fair in New York next month will not be much different from CES.
However, Sphero has its own unique strengths in this area where he has built his own popular robotic platform. In fact, Sphero has been piloted in its headquarters in Colorado. In the past year and 2016, This was reported.
The SPRK + Education project from Sphero previously provided educators and parents with a platform for teaching coding and robotics that packages children to create robots that can be connected to each other to stimulate children's ability and creativity force.
The spokesman for the company is hopeful: 'Education is something we really can have and we are doing very well with 100% of everything from founding to going public.'
Most recently, Sphero formed Misty Robotics, a new company, where Ian Bernstein, co-founder and CTO, was also based, not for the purpose of competing directly with Sphero but focusing In the development of home-assistant robots, while some of Sphero's former employees joined the company, and on the other hand, the company will also have its own programming robot, whose product Misty I is an adult-oriented product.
Original from: techcrunch