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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Brief uBeam Update

I've been busy with a combination of work and personal things, and it's hard to get the time to write good blogs, even with all the events going on with the likes of Juicero closing down. Just a brief update on uBeam - who apparently are still waiting to hear about their major funding round which has to be imminent. The climate for fundraising is ridiculously good right now, from what I hear, so surely it will be any day now?

The prospects for major funding are so good, in fact, that they seem to have had a project manager and lead mechanical engineer leave in the last month, both to "i.am+", the hardware company of will.i.am. I'm shocked - after all, don't they realize that uBeam is on the verge of being worth billions? Billions, I tell you!

It seems they have a new recruiter working for them as well - I can tell when that happens as a bunch of people I know start getting emails and calls. Usually this is the nth time they've been contacted, this time billed as "an amazing Mark Cuban backed startup, charging phones wirelessly with sound" (though no mention of a recent funding round). The poor recruiter doesn't know that uBeam is pretty well known in the acoustic community, and there's pretty much no-one that's not been contacted at least once. I imagine it has to be a bit of a demoralizing activity. The latest ones are being scouted to be the Principal Engineer for Acoustics, and while the ones contacted are talented and smart people, their skillsets are... not appropriate (in my opinion) for the needs of a company like uBeam. 

There was a bit of a charm offensive in the last month, with two uBeam board members tweeting how awesome and inspirational the CEO is, and someone from Linkin Park doing a full technical analysis of the uBeam technology and concluding it's also awesome. I'm glad to see the Tier 1 VCs are all signed up so they can concentrate on the music community now. The uBeam CEO pointed out on her Twitter feed that she was going to be spending plenty of time traveling around the country, which must make the SVP Engineering happy. Congrats to him on managing to arrange that, perhaps we'll see some tech advances now.

Most amusing, though, would be that I'm getting phone calls from people wanting to speak to the CEO about the job openings at uBeam. It's a testament to uBeam's confidence in the future of the company that they want potential new hires to speak to me and have given them my number. I do let them know it's been two years since I've been there, and they ask about my experience. I'm sure the incredible prospects at the company will outweigh anything they read online and they'll be taking the jobs immediately.

That's it, have a good week everyone.

Update Nov 3rd:

EEV Blog indicated that there may have been a new investment from Lumia Capital as the uBeam website investors page was updated. I think this is just a cleanup of the webpage by someone at uBeam - claiming to be a "Mark Cuban/Marissa Meyer backed startup" gets a little long in the tooth after 5 years and 2 intervening rounds of funding that those people skipped. From what I can see there along with comparison to SEC documents, I expect this is now just those who invested in the Series A (2014) and subsequent convertible note round (2015). This site lists Lumia as having invested in 2014 in the Series A

What does seem to have popped up is InFocus Capital Partners. This document is from January 2017 but the investment may have been in April 2016. Looks to be some opthamologists from Chicago who have an investment group that creates individual LLCs as investment vehicles for either crowdfunding or small angel groups. I think (but am not sure) to meet SEC rules this has to be part of the convertible note from 2015 but that's a messy area and I'm certain there won't be enough public info to be able to tell.

Avoiding, again, institutional money and taking instead what some may call "dumb money", i.e. those without the resources to do detailed due diligence and who buy on the 'sizzle'.

So, no, I still don't think there's public evidence they have received new institutional funding.

Nov 6th:

Those two ex-uBeam guys jumped at the right time. i.am+ raised $117 million. Wow.