Futuristic Earbud Company Shuts Down After Receiving $50 Million in Funding
Smart hearing device maker Doppler Labs announced Wednesday that it’s closing its doors.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Four years after launching and one year after closing a $24 million funding round, earbud maker Doppler Labs is shutting down.
The San Francisco-based company created wireless buds that could be placed in the ears and, for the wearer, control the volume of the outside world. Using an app, users could tune into certain sounds--say, a conversation--while lowering the volume of others, like the hammering of a construction site or the low roar of an airplane engine.
Co-founder Noah Kraft was honored on Inc.'s 30 Under 30 list in 2016. Since its 2013 founding, the startup secured $50 million in total funding from investors including Live Nation, The Chernin Group, and Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer.
But sales of the $299 devices never took off. According to Wired, the company sold just 25,000 pairs of its debut product, the Here One, since it launched in February. Fifteen thousand more still sit in a warehouse.
While the Here One buds worked more or less as advertised--and received positive reviews from some major publications--the battery life turned out to be a major issue: The devices lasted less than three hours. "We focused so much on size and compactness with Here One that we kind of compromised battery life," co-founder Fritz Lanman told Wired.
The market for high-tech wireless buds has recently seen some major entrants: Apple's AirPods debuted in late 2016, and Google unveiled its new Pixel Buds in October.
Kraft told Wired that several months ago, he held a meeting with one of the "Big Five" tech companies--Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft--and believed the company was either going to buy Doppler or invest in it heavily. Whoever the talks were with, they evidently never came to fruition.
Doppler Labs did not immediately respond to Inc.'s request for comment.
The company posted a message on its website Wednesday, thanking customers for their support and highlighting the fact that the company helped bring about legislation that allowed hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter. "Our hope now," the company wrote, "is that the legacy of what Doppler started lives on through other products and endeavors for years to come."