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Popslate’s Second E-ink Smartphone Case is Delayed as the Company Faces a Financial Crisis

Earlier this year Popslate announced the Popslate 2, an iPhone case which adds a 4.7″ E-ink screen to the rear of the iPhone. That case had a 9-hour battery life and can be used to display your schedule, airplane boarding ticket, etc.

The Popslate 2 was crowd-funded on Indiegogo and originally set to ship in July 2016, but today a reader brought to my attention that it has been delayed, again. The Popslate had first been delayed until October 2016, and then was delayed again until late December.

Now Popslate is saying that the case won’t ship until either February or March 2017. And what’s worse, they have stopped giving refunds (temporarily, at least).

Earlier this month Popslate posted the following update to the Indiegogo campaign page:

This unexpected development cycle has stressed our finances to the limit.  All remaining cash must be preserved for getting the product over the line. This will impact our refund policy, at least temporarily.  Although Indiegogo does not require a campaign to provide refunds, our policy has been to refund folks who made the request.  Unfortunately, we need to put refunds, including current pending requests, temporarily on hold as we assess the scope of the MFi redesign work.

The delay was blamed on failed certification tests, and the need to rework the design before resubmitting the hardware.

The first Popslate case shipped two years late, and only after the company took outside capital. Now it appears the company is in a similar financial state, only this time the company had raised 5 times as much money (over $1.1 million, in fact).

So if the company goes under now, there will be a whole lot more disappointed users.

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Curtis Tucker December 29, 2016 um 12:42 am

Well, at least I am only out $89. It’s really too bad, the CEO has a 10 mil house, maybe he can get a second on it.

Ian Chin January 6, 2017 um 7:18 pm

They’ve also stopped responding to emails. I’ve reached out directly to CEO Yashar Behzadi ) and CMO Greg Moon ) however they’re silent.

Popslate hasn’t upadted their site or social properties in months… my guess is that the product will never be produced and refunds won’t be paid out…

Nate Hoffelder January 6, 2017 um 8:08 pm

It’s probably even worse than you think.

After I published this post I discovered that Popslate had gone on Shark Tank, the show where startups try to gain the interest of capital investors.

They were rebuffed.

Sani March 11, 2017 um 5:28 am

Any updates on delivery of Pop Slate2 guys? Thanks

Nate Hoffelder March 11, 2017 um 7:17 am

I don’t have any new news, no.

Greg L March 18, 2017 um 12:03 am

Do not expect delivery.

I just received an email from the CEO today that they have "completely depleted their finances" and therefore are calling it quits.

Nate Hoffelder March 18, 2017 um 6:39 am

thanks for the heads up!

Christopher Hicks March 18, 2017 um 7:36 am

I just got another email,
'Not enough money left for refunds'. Legally can they do that?
I feel scammed, especially informing me so via an emai like that.

Nate Hoffelder March 18, 2017 um 8:32 am

If the company is bankrupt, it’s bankrupt. There’s nothing left.

Curtis March 19, 2017 um 12:15 am

Here is the email……

Critical Company Update
This update provides serious and unwelcome news.

Based upon your support, we have spent the last year continuing to develop our vision for “always-on” mobile solutions. Our goal was to solve three fundamental issues with today’s smartphones: we wanted to simplify access to information, increase battery performance, and improve readability. Unfortunately, the significant development hurdles that we have encountered have completely depleted our finances, and we have been unable to raise additional funds in the current market. As a result, popSLATE does not have a viable business path forward.

This marks the end of a 5-year journey for our team, which started with a seed of an idea in 2012 and led to our quitting our jobs to start the company. Although we are very disappointed by the ultimate outcome and its implications for you as our backers, we are proud of our team, who worked tirelessly over the years to commercialize the first plastic ePaper display, globally ship thousands of popSLATE 1 devices as a first-in-category product, and re-imagine & further extend the platform with the second generation product. Despite a strong vision, high hopes, and very hard work, we find ourselves at the end of this journey.

We are out of money at this juncture for two key reasons. First, we have spent heavily into extensive development and preparation for manufacturing [click here to see one the latest units in action], but we hit several critical issues that extended our timelines and multiplied the spend. These issues have included:

Identifying a reliable set of materials and manufacturing method for our curved screen design (solved)
Iterating upon a complicated and multi-path power management circuit (solved)
Unexpected failure of a critical Apple iPhone test, related to reliable transmission and receiving on the iPhone. Passing this testing is a hard gate from Apple for shipping devices (not yet solved)
For the Apple test failure, we conducted extensive root cause analysis and learned that passing the test would involve a significant redesign. While we initially suspected that the Lightning circuit was the culprit, it turned out that it was a much more fundamental issue. Namely, our housing material is not compatible with Apple OTA requirements. You may think, “Wait, isn’t it just plastic? Why would that be a problem?” While the housing is indeed largely plastic, we used a very special custom blend of materials that included glass fibers. The glass fibers were used to solve two issues, both of which were related to making the device super-thin: a) they enabled uniform, non-distortional cooling of the housing mold around our metal stiffener plate (the key component that makes popSLATE 2 thin but very strong) and b) they added tensile strength to the very compact form factor. Unfortunately, we have concluded that these added fibers are attenuating the RF signal and that we would have to spend additional cycles to tune a new blend with required modifications to the tooling. This would be an expensive and lengthy process.

Second, we have been unsuccessful at raising additional financing, despite having vigorously pursued all available avenues over the past year (including angels, VCs, Shark Tank and equity crowdfunding, both in the US and abroad). Many in our network of fellow hardware innovators have encountered this difficult new reality. You may have also seen the very public financial struggles of big-name consumer hardware companies—GoPro, Fitbit, Pebble, Nest and others—as highlighted in this recent New York Times article [link]. The most dramatic example of this phenomenon is the recent and sudden shutting down of Pebble, paragon of past crowdfunding success.

There is no way to sugarcoat what this all means:

popSLATE has entered into the legal process for dissolution of the company
Your popSLATE 2 will not be fulfilled
There is no money available for refunds
This will be our final update
While this is a very tough moment professionally and emotionally for us, it is obviously extremely disappointing for all of you who had believed in the popSLATE vision. We are incredibly grateful for your enthusiasm, ideas, and support. Just as importantly, we deeply regret letting you down and not being able to deliver on our promise to you. We truly wish there were a viable path forward for product fulfillment and the broader popSLATE vision, but sadly we have exhausted all available options.

Sincerely yours,
Yashar & Greg
Co-founders, popSLATE

This email was sent to [email protected]
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popSLATE Media, Inc. · 1059 East Meadow Circle · Palo Alto, CA 94303 · USA

Christopher Hicks March 19, 2017 um 10:36 am

The sharks were right. Why did I invest?!
Can we built a suit to get the money back?

XM March 24, 2017 um 2:39 am

Wow what a FUBAR! Thank god I decided to go for Oaxis' InkCase instead of Popslate. Oaxis was Popslate’s main competitor and I think Oaxis was the original source of the whole second screen idea. Go check them out here:
They actually deliver and the support team replies pretty promptly too.

Popslate Files for Bankruptcy, Will Not be Shipping Its Second E-ink Smartphone Case | The Digital Reader April 4, 2017 um 6:12 pm

[…] had previously warned backers in December that they running low on funds, so today's news comes as little surprise. (And yet, Popslate continued to sell the Popslate 2 on […]

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