Anki was founded in 2010 and launched its first product in 2013. It generated a lot of buzz over the past decade and received multiple cash injections totaling over $200 million. This all culminated in 2018 with its launch of Vector, the cute little robot shown in the video above.
According to an article over at Vox, Anki was close to reaching $100 million in revenue in 2017 and their Kickstarter in 2018 pulled in $1.8 million. But it seems even with all the capital, and all sales, it still wasn’t enough to keep Anki’s lights on.
For a company thats able to pull in $200 million funding, opening Kickstarter to raise $500,000 raises some red flags. The need to crowdfund for marginal capital is bad news, and even if its intended to be used to gauge public interest —well lets just say it’d be ideal for a 10 year old company to have a good pulse on its market.
Then late last year an article in Crunchbase opened the possibility of serious capital troubles.
For its part, Anki’s most recent venture round was a Series D, which ultimately secured roughly $77.5 million for the company, according to its SEC filing. However, the new equity round was not labeled “Series E,” as would be expected.
Labeling this venture round a “Series 1” indicates the company has potentially recapitalized.
Crunchbase News covered another “Series 1” round in the past, which Teespring raised during the course of its recapitalization. In that transaction, Teespring’s existing preferred shareholders were crammed down into a new class as it issued a new class of preferred shares and wrote down the value of common stockholders to zero. That is definitely a worst-case scenario and probably not what happened with Anki, assuming the company’s stated revenue (again, supposedly exceeding $100 million in 2018) is correct.
It’s not clear exactly what happened, but whatever took place between then and now, Anki wasn’t able to secure a much needed windfall and had to shutter its operations. $100 million in sales is really a remarkable achievement, and its unfortunate that they couldn’t make it profitable, or convince others that one day it might be.