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Android creator Andy Rubin has a new backer for his startup — Amazon – Business Insider

Andy Rubin Essential Phone
Android creator Andy Rubin holds up the PH-1


Essential, Andy Rubin’s new electronics startup, is getting ready
to reveal more about its anticipated smartphone, even as
it announced it has has an intriguing new backer —

In a tweet on Wednesday, Rubin announced that the company was in
“mass production” of its phone, and that additional information
would be available next week. He also posted pictures of the
production process.

Previously, the company had been vague about when the $700
device, which is being positioned as a competitor to Apple’s
iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S8, would launch.  

Earlier on Wednesday, the company announced that it’s closed a
new round of funding. Essential raised $300 million in a Series B
round. The amount of funding wasn’t a surprise —
reports that the company had raised $300 million have trickled
out since June
— but the company just disclosed the investors
in the round, which includes Amazon, on Wednesday.

In addition to its smartphone, Essential plans to release a
smart speaker later this year called Home that will compete with
Amazon’s Echo devices as well as with Google Home and Apple’s
upcoming HomePod. Rubin, Essential’s founder and CEO, has
said Essential Home will be designed to interact with
various smart home ecosystems and will allow owners to use
Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant to control their device. But it
will also allow them to use Alexa competitors, including Apple’s
Siri and Google Assistant. 

In a statement, Paul Bernard, director of corporate
development at Amazon’s Alexa Fund, said the company was looking
forward to collaborating with Essential. 

Essential Products has a compelling vision and
roadmap for connected devices that integrates voice technology in
novel ways,” Bernard said in the statement. “We are excited to
see Alexa become part of that vision where interacting with
technology is simple, helpful and creates an interface that
others can build on and innovate.”

The PH-1 phone, Essential’s first product, will be available
unlocked through Amazon’s web store, as well as through
Essential’s own site and through BestBuy.com, a company
representative said. The phone will also be available through
Sprint in the US and Telus in Canada.

In addition to Amazon, Chinese Internet company Tencent, Taiwan
manufacturing giant Foxconn, and Future Fund — Australia’s
sovereign wealth fund — invested in Essential’s latest funding
round. Other investors included Playground, which is Rubin’s own
startup incubator, venture capital
firm Redpoint, and tech investors Vy
Capital and Altimeter Capital. 

Essential is Rubin’s first big product company since he left
Google in 2014. Even though it has yet to launch a product, the
company has already seen its share of turmoil,
losing several key executives
in recent months.

Android creator Andy Rubin has a new backer for his startup — Amazon – Business Insider

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