Essential Raises $300 Million, Upstart Valued at Almost $1 Billion
Essential, a startup run by Andy Rubin, added $300 million to its fund and is now valued almost $1 billion. The first batch of Essential Phones is about to ship to first customers.
Ex-Googler and former Android head, Andy Rubin, announced the first Essential device last week. a smartphone in the same tier as the Samsung Galaxy S8 and LG G6. Additionally, the company announced the Essential Home speaker to compete with the likes of Google Home, Apple HomePod or Samsung Bixby.
The second financing round valued Essential at $993 million, according to an analysis by Equidate. The company submitted required paperwork shortly before announcing the PH-1. Investors in the deal weren’t disclosed and the company declined to comment. These numbers are really high, though, and suggest that Andy Rubin’s name is a contributing factor.
Before the latest financing in May, the company raised $30 million from Rubin’s Playground Global and Redpoint Ventures last year. Other investors include venture firm Altimeter Capital, Tencent Holdings Ltd., and Foxconn Technology Group, according to the official website.
Essential emerged from Playground Global, a tech incubator formed by Rubin after leaving Google. Andy Rubin was a co-founder of the original Android project that evolved into the most popular mobile operating system in the world, and said reputation propelled the Essential Phone into the spotlight. The new financing round created a separate class of shares with more voting rights, suggesting that Playground Global has control over Essential.
According to Bloomberg, Essential also reportedly tried to join SoftBank Group’s $100 billion technology fund. The company pulled the plug when Apple joined the fund — apparently, Essential didn’t want to be backed by its main rival.
The collected funds should help the company manufacture enough devices for its customers, and run its marketing campaign. So far, the latter seems to be working.