Razer acquires Nextbit, the startup behind the Robin smartphone
Razer Nextbit smartphone
Three months after buying iconic audio tech firm THX, Razer is making one other transfer to increase its enterprise past {hardware} and software program for the gaming group. The corporate has acquired Nextbit, the startup behind the Robin smartphone, based by Android veterans who had set out with excessive hopes (and some respectable funding) to rethink find out how to construct a cell phone that leaned on cloud storage.
Monetary phrases of the deal, which closed earlier this month, haven’t been disclosed by both firm, however sources trace that there was an honest fairness portion to it. Nextbit had raised $18 million in funding from Accel, GV and Dentsu, plus another $1.36 million on Kickstarter as a part of a crowdfunding marketing campaign partly used to market the Robin smartphone.
Razer can be bringing on Nextbit’s workers of 30, and Min-Liang Tan, Razer’s co-founder and CEO, stated in an interview that the plan can be to develop extra merchandise preserving the Nextbit model, which is able to function as its personal standalone enterprise unit.
“We’ve been big followers of what Nexbit has been doing,” he stated, “each the work on the cellphone know-how and on the cloud-based storage facet of issues. There may be lots of potential and expertise.”
However the carry-over will not embody Nextbit’s Robin cellphone — which in any case was no longer being sold by Nextbit, both. Min confirmed that the Robin has been discontinued, however the software program and current telephones will proceed to be supported for a minimum of the subsequent six months.
As for what’s coming subsequent, Min wouldn’t specify whether or not that can be one thing much like what Nextbit has made earlier than or one thing else altogether.
“We’ll be prepared to speak about that once we’re prepared,” Min stated in an interview. “With Nextbit, it was actually the software program and design expertise we wished to herald. We have an excellent observe report of going into conventional markets and constructing out from there.”
After THX, and gaming firm Ouya, that is the third latest acquisition for Razer (which itself has disclosed around $125 million in funding from backers like Intel and Accel, with a valuation of nicely over $1 billion). However as a potential steerage of the place Razer would possibly go together with Nextbit, we might look additional again to 2008, when Razer quietly acquired one other firm, OQO, whose staff served because the core of its transfer into laptops.
One other clue is perhaps discovered in one thing that Tom Moss, the co-founder of Nextbit who served as its CEO, informed me concerning the acquisition. He stated there have been others who approached Nextbit, “the businesses you’ll anticipate, some interested by what we had been already doing in {hardware}, and others interested by what we had been doing in software program,” however the advantage of Razer, he added, “is that we are able to proceed to do each.”
(Moss and Min had been launched, he stated, not by widespread investor Accel however by John Lagerling, VP of partnerships at Fb, which might be the proper job for him.)
Razer has been targeted squarely on gaming (the corporate’s motto is “For Avid gamers. By Avid gamers”), and it has been a fairly aggressive believer in focused, vertical integration, constructing a variety of {hardware} and software program for the gaming market. So it’s fascinating that prior to now, the corporate has stayed away from making cellphones, which have such a robust hyperlink to the gaming world.
It’s not clear why that’s the case, however it’s price questioning what sort of a job the branding of one other “Razr” cellphone could have performed.
Motorola, now owned by Lenovo, made a extremely popular vary of handsets below the Razr model in two phases, first a “razor-thin” flip cellphone after which the Android-based Droid Razr, and you’ll think about how potential trademarking points or simply considerations about model confusion would have saved Razer away from the cell handset recreation.
(Small, coincidental facet be aware: Years in the past, Moss began, and his Nextbit co-founder MIke Chan labored at, a startup referred to as 3LM, which was eventually acquired by none other than Motorola.)
For Nextbit, the startup has discovered a touchdown place the place its enterprise can faucet a big current viewers of Razer prospects and (importantly) followers.
However then again, its resolution to go the acquisition route underscores the various challenges of constructing {hardware} or cloud-based companies (not to mention an organization that wished to do each) from the bottom up in immediately’s market — the place each areas are dominated by scale: outsized corporations, big buyer bases and many capital.
Nextbit itself was no stranger to these issues: the corporate had deliberate, and offered in opposition to, however finally cancelled a plan to launch a CDMA model of its unique GSM-based Robin handset, a vital turning level for the startup.
Time will inform if Razer can be a sufficiently big platform to step up into the race extra definitively. In its favor, it’s had an fascinating and quietly profitable observe report thus far.
And there are the larger traits of the tech world. “Each time there’s a establishment for prime gamers, one thing else comes alongside,” Moss stated. “Innovation undoubtedly slowed up to now few years, however I consider it as extra of a pause. In addition to know-how being on the bleeding edge, there’s nonetheless lots of alternative for change. There all the time has been.”

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