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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Hello's Sleep-tracking Kickstarter Hit, Which Raised Over $42M In Three Years, Collapses (bbc.com) 100

Reader AmiMoJo writes: A sleep-tracking tech start-up founded by a Briton, which was one of Kickstarter's biggest success stories, has collapsed. Hello raised more than $2.4m (1.9m pound) for its Sense bedroom monitor via the crowdfunding site in 2014, and went on to attract a further $40.5m. Private backers included Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Facebook Messenger chief David Marcus. Hello confirmed it would "soon be shutting down", via Medium's news site. The equipment produced a unique score for the previous night's sleep and aimed to wake the owner up at the best point in their sleep cycle.
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Hello's Sleep-tracking Kickstarter Hit, Which Raised Over $42M In Three Years, Collapses

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  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @04:00PM (#54611897)

    I am taking this time as the First Post, to let all the cutting edge Slashdotters in on my upcoming Kickstarter campaign that will leverage the great advances in pneumatic computing with the synergy of large atomic colliders the synergize time travel technology with malt liquor and cocaine. Please join me at Kickstarter to Kickoff this mind-blowing opportunity for me to own one hell of a fast cigarette boat tied up soon-to-be headquarters in Miami, Florida. This canâ(TM)t fail, all development will be done on swanky super thin solid titanium laptops designed in Palo Alto. There will also be free Throwback Mountain Dew, and foos ball tables and lots of drug-fueld group sex.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Drugs, booze, synergy, drugs, sex.

      With the blackouts and hangovers your staff will have, you need to give them all free Hello sleep tracking devices to to wake them up at the best point in their sleep cycle.

    • You had me at pneumatic, where is the signup button?

    • *Waiting to see reward levels and variety of swag*
  • milli (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @04:04PM (#54611913) Journal

    $2.4m (1.9m pound)

    So, 0.0024USD, and 0.0019 Pounds? No wonder it failed, you can't buy anything with less than a penny!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You'd have a point, except that there is no SI unit for currency, so SI units don't really make sense in this context. By your logic $42M would be 42 megadollars. The values happen to line up for this case, but $42B doesn't line up so well.

  • Founded by a Briton? What kind of detail is that to give by itself?
    • It was a BBC article, and James Proud (the aforementioned Briton) relocated to Silicon Valley after getting a grant from Peter Thiel to kick it off. Thus the BBC was highlighting the fact that the founder was British.

  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @04:16PM (#54611987)

    This amazes me.
    Apps that tell us when to drink water, devices that track our sleep, measure our heart rate, tell us when to pee, poop and have orgasms*, what the fuck is going on?
    use all those apps and devices and instead of dying at 50 because you smoked, drank and partied too much, you'll die at 50 of boredom.

    Live a little, for fuck's sake.

    (*) some of those are not yet available, but just wait a few years

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by chill ( 34294 )

      Technically, an app that tells you when to have an orgasm would really be able to answer the question of just what the fuck was going on.

      You might be on to something here.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Call it a JOIstick.

    • you'll die at 50 of boredom

      You'll die at 50 of boredom because you exercised with all your equipment too much? I don't understand your line of thinking. But then that is expected because you're not thinking. If you were thinking you'd realise that these things don't tell you anything, they suggest and they track. You too could have a computer with no indication of free space or SMART diagnostics on your HDD, but then what happens?

      These devices aren't there for fun, they are there to fill a need that is already a problem:
      - People aren

      • - People aren't sleeping well. Why else would they buy a tracking device to help them improve their sleeping habits.

        You can't be seriously saying that people aren't sleeping well because they so far had no app to tell them that. Come on!
        They aren't sleeping well because they have a shit lifestyle. I have a shit lifestyle as well, and I know I am not sleeping well, but I already know no amount of apps and devices will fix that.

        - People aren't drinking right (poetically one of my colleagues was sent to hospital just now after passing out due to what we expect to be dehydration).

        People who aren't drinking right should investigate why that happens and reduce or eliminate the causes, instead of using some app as a crutch.

        These apps have nothing to do with boredom, quite the opposite. The gamification of daily activities actually makes the mundane more exciting for some.

        Actually they do lead to a boring life, one which you m

        • You can't be seriously saying that people aren't sleeping well because they so far had no app to tell them that. Come on!

          No I'm saying you have poor reading comprehension skills. But I'm here to help:
          "People aren't sleeping well." Closed statement with a full stop. This in both isolation and context of the rest of the discussion has nothing to do with the rest of the comment.
          "Why else would they buy a tracking device to help them improve their sleeping habits." This sentence describes the exact opposite of what you read into it. People don't realise they are sleeping poorly because of trackers, they buy trackers to resolve th

    • ...and have orgasms,...

      Well, not quite. But for those trying to get pregnant there are apps that will tell you the best time to copulate.

      • Solved by fucking a lot.
        My wife used a thermometer but we already were having sex daily, so initializing a couple children was easy :)

    • Apparently you completely miss the point of these devices.

      the whole point in apps that track these things is so that I don't have to waste my own time and effort tracking them.

      I've found that if I don't consciously think about how much water I am drinking I don't drink enough. I don't know why I don't get thirsty, but I just don't. and then I feel miserable and can't function properly. Why would I want to waste conscious thinking about when and how much water to drink optimality? Talk about boring and a

      • So... what did you do before all this tracking?

        I don't know why I don't get thirsty, but I just don't.

        There are these people called "doctors" who might have some idea. Try them out, they're mostly not for free but still better than an app on a phone.

        • So... what did you do before all this tracking?

          There are these people called "doctors" who might have some idea. Try them out, they're mostly not for free but still better than an app on a phone.

          Well obviously I was fairly dehydrated all the time which was not great. I did go to a doctor and they told me that I just need to drink more water even if I am not thirsty. Doctors say it's fairly common to be dehydrated but not necessarily thirsty.

          • I wonder how did people manage to live before tracking apps. Must have been a shitty life, thank god we have apps now.

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @04:23PM (#54612035)
    Over the years I have watched Kickstarter projects rise and fall. Some receive very limited funds and go on to succeed. Some receive massive funding and go on to succeed. Some receive massive funding only to fail. This marketplace of ideas is strange, but a good thing. Someone has a great idea, and they are able to receive funding by people who appreciate the idea without any technical understanding as to why it may or may not fail. Regardless of some very expensive and spectacular fails, people continue to throw money at great ideas that are at least nothing more. This does not seem to slow the whole machine down. Through such services as Kickstarter, we do not know what great innovations are to be hatched and realized that may have otherwise never seen the light of day over those great ideas that will fail. You can argue that it is a model for throwing money at a wall to see what sticks, but in this case I think that is a good thing for those things that may come but otherwise would not have.
    • To their credit, they managed to produce the hardware and software and get it to market, and apparently it worked fine. There is just a lot of competition in that space right now (like this: https://www.amazon.com/Withing... [amazon.com]), plus most all fitness trackers (Fitbit, and even the Apple Watch) do a decent job tracking sleep. Personally I use my Apple Watch with a free app to track my sleep, and as a bonus I get to see how all my cardio exercise results in nice low heart rates while I'm in deep sleep.

    • This marketplace of ideas is strange, but a good thing.

      Sure, it's great for the founders that bilk millions of dollars out of backers.

      Even if these guys and gals have good intentions, the "regular" non-crowd funded track for product development has a way of weeding out all non-hackers. Not perfect either of course, but better than crowdfunding.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      I suppose it might have been a good idea fifteen years ago. Possibly even ten, but they would have had to have been fast. But by five years ago there were already many smartphone apps that offered to do the same thing... for free.

  • From the description in the blurb the "Sleep as Android" app will do all that for free, or $4 if you want to unlock extra features, and it's been around since... 2011 or so? And i'm sure there are other apps around that do similar things. I can't really understand why there was $42 million of demand, or why given that money they couldn't accomplish what others have done on presumably shoestring budgets.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      My first generation Vivofit does a pretty good job of sleep tracking along with activity tracking. Other fitness bands probably do as well as Hello's tracker too, so why pay the same amount for a device that only does the one thing and is much less portable?

      So the product failed, despite having $42 million. That's due to poor money management and a poor business roadmap. Now they are saying that people who bought one are basically screwed as it's dependent upon external servers for some reason and they refu

    • This is such bad mismanagement that it is very likely fraud. The appropriate bodies need to start looking very hard at the books. As the lead engineer I have brought a number of consumer products to market for right around $1M. Honestly, if Kickstarter and similar crowd funding companies expect to stay in the business, they need to set up some kind of business mentorship or have a board of directors that has oversight on any campaign that pulls in more than a certain threshold (over $100K or some such) t

  • Easy solution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sootman ( 158191 )

    Don't waste money on shit like this. You'll sleep better.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      the developers that scammed the 40+ million bucks are.

  • ...A founder who looks like he's about 15 and wears jeans and t-shirts all the time.
  • My best guess as to why companies keep coming up with sleep trackers in spite of the fact that past sleep trackers worked well and failed in the marketplace is that there's something intrinsically optimistic about the genre. Basically, everyone seems to think the reasons why the previous versions failed does not apply to the new version, even though it totally applies to the new version.

    Actually, maybe this is just a software-engineer thing. Like the guy who founded "The Melt", where they eventually found

  • So, where did all that money go? Hmmmm.

  • by kaizendojo ( 956951 ) on Tuesday June 13, 2017 @07:19PM (#54613177)
    It's more newsworthy when one actually succeeds. I've been in 5; one of which was the fabled Kreyos Smart Watch massacre (which I recently found when cleaning up and promptly threw away), two which were DOA and got cancelled before production (at least I got my money back), one which turned out to be a repacked speaker from a Chinese company (for twice the price). The last debacle was the Qube Smart Lights which are over a year late and new lies everyday. Never again. I see "crowdfund" in an article and I don't even click anymore.
    • They keep thinking they can go on getting money from everywhere to support their unicorns

      In the meantime they do nothing useful
    • by bungo ( 50628 )

      You just have to be careful what you choose. Look at the goals, are they realistic? Look at the people involved. Are that raising enough money? Do they want too much money?

      I've only backed one crowdfund, the Veronica Mars movie. It had the original show runner, the main cast members (and ended up with almost all of the huge original cast). They wanted a reasonable amount of money. The production values could have been low, but it wasn't something that was a concern. If they produced a TV-episode like movie

      • You just have to be careful what you choose. Look at the goals, are they realistic? Look at the people involved. Are that raising enough money? Do they want too much money?

        Look at if they have ever done anything previously. Seriously, jumping in on an out of nowhere hardware gadget that seems great that doesn't have a prototype is just begging to wish you had played the lotto instead. Even if they do have a prototype, it might be easy to produce twenty of such items in their spare time and send to backers, but if they get successful and need to produce 10,000, the added complication will often cause them to fail. If somebody is producing a significant item, such as a physical

    • by jwdb ( 526327 )

      I call your anecdote and raise you my own: at least 15 successful projects on various platforms. I tossed out the CHIP I funded, but still use the aluminum wallet. Quite happy with my success rate.

      Maybe you're buying into over-hyped projects? That was my mistake with CHIP - look for the little-but-useful ones instead.

    • It's more newsworthy when one actually succeeds.

      I've done 30 or so, and while some run over time, most have produced the final product, and only two are still in progress. Perhaps you are just bad at choosing what to back? Still, a friend who is pretty much a professional Kickstarter Organizer has said that it is pretty much a matter of betting you reputation and personal contacts. Most people don't back something they don't know about or whose creators aren't already known. Personally, the stuff I back is pretty much all small runs by small companies fo

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Kickstarters rules are insane:worse than a bankloan or selling shares because if you hit a problem which delays or sinks your project - very common in any technology project - you can find yourself having to pay the whole thing back. This is in their terms and conditions. It's insane!

    Banks and shareholders accept the risk and take it on the chin if it doesn't pan out: "that's business!", but kickstarter leaves you liable to repay every cent you received! Their FAQ encourages you to negotiate with yo

  • How was this funded when there has been a similar product in the app store for years ie. SleepCycle.

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