“They’re smart as hell and massively talented” is how one agency CEO described it.
Be that as it may, Undercurrent, the 8-year-old strategic consulting and advisory firm, officially closed its doors last Friday, only a few months after a much-hyped sale to crowdsourced product company Quirky. It caused, as expected, an outpouring of affection on Twitter for founders Josh Spear, Rob Schuman and Aaron Dignan. The shutdown of Undercurrent is being taken by both agency and startup world as a cautionary tale for what happens when you stop being independent — especially poignant considering Undercurrent had been, by most accounts, successful.
Undercurrent, according to employees, was and continued to be profitable. But Quirky wasn’t: Reports about its financial woes circulated in the press for months. Quirky reportedly burned through $185 million in investor money and laid of 20 percent off its staff in the past eight months alone. It also ran into problems with Wink, its highly publicized connected home platform, which also wasn’t making money. A former Undercurrent employee said that for Quirky to keep Wink, possibly its only product with some growth potential, it had to get rid of some of its other operations. In the end, Quirky got rid of Undercurrent, which while profitable, was still fledgling, bringing in about $10 million a year.
Quirky and Undercurrent also had a relationship before the deal: Co-founder Spear was a Quirky investor and a “longtime friend and advisor” to Kaufman. At the time of the deal, Dignan lauded Quirky as “the invention platform that will power every company on the planet someday.” So it was surprising to outsiders that saw the shuttering of Undercurrent three months after its acquisition. Rather than competing with agencies, Undercurrent chose to provide brand strategy only, without delivering actual work.
8-6-2021 (August 6, 2021) is the Snakiest day of the year and it’s also this year’s CircuitPython Day! The day highlights all things CircuitPython and Python on Hardware. See you there!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.
Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!
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Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: EuroPython 2021, CircuitPython 7.0.0 alpha 5 and more! #Python #Adafruit #CircuitPython @micropython @ThePSF
Adafruit IoT Monthly — Smart Agriculture, an E-Ink Newspaper, and more!
Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode for the micro:bit - 2021 Release!
EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey
New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — NEW PRODUCTS – Silicone Keycap Molds – MX Compatible Switches
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