Update 08/06/2020: After the startup Owl Cameras Inc. dissolved relatively untidily earlier this 12 months (see unique information story beneath for extra on that), customers had been caught with costly sprint cams and no assist. But there’s hope! Xirgo Technologies, the corporate that acquired Owl Cameras Inc.’s mental property, has partnered with CallPass to take over the patron service. Existing Owl prospects ought to have acquired a notification by way of their app or e-mail. Read extra in regards to the rehatching of Owlcam, and keep tuned for opinions of the brand new product promised for later this 12 months.
Owl Cameras is lifeless. The startup made a splash in 2018 with the Owl Car Cam, a splash cam that plugged right into a automotive’s OBD-II port and recorded each inside and out of doors the automobile, importing these movies to a cloud service by way of LTE. But now, two years later, the corporate’s staff are scattered, and its belongings have been offered. The story may need ended abruptly proper there, however this story holds a glimmer of hope for present customers.
PCWorld reviews dash cams, together with each the debut 2018 Owl Car Cam and the improved 2019 Owl Car Cam. Even although the digital camera’s $350 value was very excessive for its aggressive set, it acquired largely constructive opinions, and a few folks purchased the Owl Car Cam—although, apparently, not sufficient folks to maintain the corporate afloat.
Things began trying alarming earlier this 12 months when PCWorld sprint cam reviewer Jon L. Jacobi started receiving emails from readers who had been unable to succeed in Owl Cameras for assist. As we started to research the Owl Cameras communication blackout, we discovered an organization that appeared alive on the floor, however appeared very a lot lifeless upon nearer inspection.
The lights are on, however…
If you had checked out Owl Cameras’ website in early February, all would have appeared regular, at the least at first look. Its slickly designed pages had been up and operating. The About web page listed the chief crew and a Board of Directors. A Careers web page confirmed an extended record of job openings. Today, the location greets you with a pop-up stating new purchases are being “temporarily suspended while the next steps are being determined,” however just some weeks in the past, nothing appeared amiss.
Other indicators of life might be discovered on LinkedIn, the place the founding government crew was nonetheless listed as employed by Owl Cameras, Inc. The LinkedIn profile pages of co-founding CEO Andrew Hodge and co-founding CTO Nathan Ackerman went as far as to proclaim, “we’re hiring!”
Other indicators of well being: Job postings on Glassdoor appeared just lately refreshed, and worker opinions had been usually glowing. Some opinions talked about typical startup perks, like plentiful free snacks. But one trace of a distinct story got here within the closing Glassdoor assessment, dated October 31, 2019. It was a good assessment, nevertheless it ended with a foreboding sentence: “Company makes a great product but failed to raise more money.”
No one is residence
The extra we pulled at Owl Cameras’ strings, the extra it grew to become clear that the corporate was both on life assist or utterly lifeless. We reached out to Owl’s public relations agency and discovered it was now not working with Owl. We additionally observed Owl Cam merchandise had been unavailable to buy on the corporate’s web site and Amazon. And, after failing to succeed in anybody on Owl’s buyer assist line, we visited the corporate’s Palo Alto, CA headquarters to search out places of work gone utterly darkish. Inside we might see workplace furnishings and a few scattered paraphernalia. But there have been no folks, no PCs, and no indicators of free snacks.
Most tech startups fail. From that perspective, the demise of Owl Cameras is hardly a shock, neither is the explanation: As that Glassdoor assessment said, it merely ran out of cash. An individual carefully related to Owl Cameras who wished to stay nameless described a downward spiral that started final September with a significant layoff and government reshuffle, and concluded in January with a full shutdown of the corporate.
Other than that single nameless supply, PCWorld has been unable to search out anybody else keen to explain what occurred. We reached out to founders Hodge and Ackerman for remark, however acquired no responses as of this writing.
Nonetheless, we’ve been in a position to piece collectively a chronology of troubling occasions. Owl Cameras’ Twitter feed went silent after August 29, 2019. A scan of the LinkedIn profiles of former Owl Cameras staff confirmed a lot of them exited round September, 2019, together with founding CEO Andrew Hodge. The firm filed a Statement of Information with the State of California dated October 28, 2019, itemizing a brand new CEO (Gary Clayton), and designating co-founder/CTO Nathan Ackerman as Secretary and Chief Financial Officer. Gary Clayton’s LinkedIn profile now exhibits he was CEO of Owl Cameras from October, 2019 to January, 2020, whereas Nathan Ackerman’s profile exhibits him as a present worker of Owl Cameras, Inc.
Let’s not neglect the customers who purchased Owl Car Cams and abruptly misplaced all technical assist. Owl Cameras additionally deserted two enterprise companions, Best Buy and the AAA automotive insurance coverage firm. Best Buy was nonetheless promoting the Owl Car Cam in February, lengthy after the corporate started displaying indicators of failure. AAA had inked a deal final June to work with Owl Car Cams on behalf of its prospects, and was nonetheless selling the deal in February.
It seems each corporations discovered of Owl’s demise not from Owl itself, however relatively from PCWorld once we contacted them for this story. Neither responded to our communications immediately, however we observed that the Best Buy retail web page and AAA data associated to Owl Car Cams disappeared quickly after we contacted the businesses.
An reply, and a bit of hope
So would anybody share clear data on the destiny of Owl Cameras, and the place its prospects can search assist? We lastly received a response (albeit a imprecise one) from Xirgo Technologies, an organization that gives IoT options for enterprise prospects. A supply inside the firm confirmed that Xirgo had acquired the belongings and know-how of Owl Cameras, Inc. The buy occurred in early February, however has not but been publicly introduced. Our supply says the corporate is exploring options for servicing present Owl Car Cam homeowners. At least Xirgo appears to care a bit of extra about these early backers than Owl Cameras did.
Jon L. Jacobi contributed to this story.