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Executives are abandoning Andy Rubin’s Essential smartphone project

Three executives have left Andy Rubin's Essential startup ahead of its first phone's launch — is there trouble at the company?

Published onJuly 28, 2017

Running a startup is no easy task, especially in such a competitive industry as that of the high-end smartphones. When the father of Android announced the Essential Phone at the end of May, he promised that it will ship by the end of June. Needless to say, it didn’t. In fact, it was only certified by the FCC near the end of last month.

Rubin has since stated that the handset is coming in August — still, it sounds like a case of biting off more than the startup company can chew.

In the first half of this month, Essential lost two of its high-ranked employees — VP of marketing Brian Wallace and head of communication Andy Fouché. Neither of them were strangers to vaporware, as they were part of the controversial AR startup Magic Leap before joining Rubin’s Essential. Wallace had also worked at Samsung, contributing to its memorable “Next Big Thing” campaign.

Andy Rubin’s Essential team exploring Google Glass-like smart glasses

Today, it was revealed that another top talent has left Rubin’s company. Liron Damir, former head of UX at Essential, has taken a new role at Google. Oddly enough, his new position is almost the same of that he held at Rubin’s startup — he’ll be the head of UX for Google Home.

This is something of a surprise as Damir will be heading one of the two major competitors of the Essential Home smart speaker. This leads us to believe that his departure isn’t linked to his responsibilities, as such, but may instead have been provoked by other internal factors.

Watch Andy Rubin make a case for the Essential Phone

With Essential losing three of its top executives in just a month, the future isn’t looking so bright for Rubin’s dream project. Usually, such mass departures of high-ranked employees signify turmoil in the company. While no one expects smooth sailing when joining a small startup with a big aim, Essential is definitely not in a good place with three of its executives moving on to other businesses.

Combined with the delay of the Essential phone, and the initial silence on Essential’s social media channels regarding its release, it does bring the company’s capabilities into question. What do you think? Will the Essential Phone be a hit, or will this be the only phone that Essential ever produces? Give us your thoughts below.

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