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February 16, 2021
🛎️ Greetings! Our puppy Kyoto is currently learning dog bell training to hopefully bark at us less. Our ears could use a break! Or is a bell worse?!
Nothing: Essential, and public investment opportunity(/risk)
Essential Phone

Carl Pei’s Nothing has been busy! Yesterday, 9to5Google scooped that the company had bought the Essential brand: trademarks, logo, and the Essential brand itself all snapped up. 

  • Which is great! Nothing-Essential, together at least! 
  • It could all amount to essentially nothing! 
  • Oh, how we laughed. A good day. 
  • Nothing talked about a smart device ecosystem. Having a phone as part of that seemed like it’d be a real gamble, but as discussed by my friend TechAltar, may be too important to do without. 
  • Can a new smartphone brand exist? Does Essential have sufficient cache after the only Essential phone, the Essential PH-1 didn’t compete at all on value, but wasn’t bad, just with a pretty shabby camera.
nothing invest

Also happening at Nothing HQ is investing! After some teases around “Investor”-branding clothing and swag, Nothing announced it will be equity crowdfunding via Crowdcube. And that is interesting:

  • Although terms aren’t out, the raise will start March 2nd at 10am GMT. This is a genuine investment with actual equity stakes involved. Crowdcube is known for funding rounds for BrewDog and Revolut, major UK/European brands.
  • People can invest as little as €50, all the way up to €20,000. The raise is capped at €1.5million or about $1.8M.
  • There are limits on people investing from the US and Canada, due to regulations that basically try and prevent people from investing in risky assets without understanding risk. And you have to be over 18.
  • Of course, you can own Alphabet (Google) stock and buy Pixel phones, or Apple and iPhones or Amazon and Fire TV devices. 
  • But the scale is completely different. Here, the allure is that you’d be getting in early alongside actual venture capital investors like Google Ventures, and personal investments from Steve Huffman, CEO and Co-founder of Reddit, Kevin Lin, Co-founder of Twitch, and more.
  • So, this is pretty risky stuff! Nothing has sold nothing. It has no revenue. And, likely, Nothing won’t run crowd investors through its product roadmap because that will tell competitors what it is doing. So, you’ll be investing with more hope than calculations around discounted cash flow and sales figures.
  • This might be good, though. I like this a lot more than big companies crowdfunding their new devices. I wrote years ago that it’’s not ok for billion-dollar companies to crowdfund because it shifts risks onto consumers: “Being asked to put money down for a product that hasn’t been finished, hasn’t been seen by tech sites, and that definitely doesn’t have any reviews, would normally sound crazy. But crowdfunding!!
  • Equity investing at least has the potential of some reward, even if it also very much has the potential to fail too. Most startups do fail. The electronics market, in case you didn’t know, is pretty competitive.
  • Anyway — right now, you can pre-register your interest in the equity raising. In doing so, Nothing also asks you to receive marketing newsletters. Maybe that’s the play here: hoover up interested parties by any means possible, and start to get an idea of your potential consumers.

It’s still a bit weird:

  • So far, Nothing has confirmed a set of wireless headphones coming in summer 2021, i.e. in 5-6 months. 
  • It’s going to be really, really tough to compete with Bose, Sony, Beats, Apple on the ANC headphones front. 
  • In the true wireless earbuds space, competing with Apple, Samsung and a swathe of others at the different price points (Jabra/Sennheiser/Sony/1MORE/Anker/Edifier… the list goes on) won’t be easy either.
  • In any case, you have to hand it to Carl Pei, who’s at the helm of Nothing. We’re talking about the brand again. But there’s not a lot to see yet.

🍧 Android 12’s internal sweet treat name is Snow Cone. I voted Stroopwafel in this poll of better/tastier dessert names (Android Authority).

💻 Leak spills the beans on Samsung’s upcoming laptops with S-Pen support: Galaxy Book Pro and Galaxy Book Pro 360 (Android Authority).

💳 Does Apple Pay and Google Pay support mean crypto is now ready for primetime? (Android Authority).

🍎 Report: Nissan shot down Apple car deal to avoid becoming Foxconn of cars (Ars Technica).

🎮 Xbox in a browser: A first look at Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming for the web, ahead of a public preview (The Verge).

⌚ Apple says it will freely fix Apple Watch Series 5 or SE that don’t charge in power reserve mode, if the latest update still hasn’t fixed the bug (Gizmodo).

🔋 Roku is testing a rechargeable remote with a built-in battery and customizable buttons. Bad news: uses micro-USB to charge (Engadget).

🚲 Revel introduces a $99-a-month e-bike subscription for NYC residents. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for a Berlin e-bike subscription by some of the founders of SoundCloud to launch! (The Verge).

📶 Power and communications networks in Texas come under enormous pressure during wild winter storms — T-Mobile and AT&T both had outages (The Verge).

💰 The untold history of America’s zero-day code vulnerabilities market, an adapted story from the book, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends, by Nicole Perlroth (Wired).

💡 Solar powered skylight makes seawater drinkable and uses the salt as a battery: one of the six finalists of the Lexus Design Award 2021 (Interesting Engineering).

🚀 SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink satellites but failed to stick the landing for a change, despite the booster landing five times already. Now 1,145 satellites in orbit, another launch scheduled this week (Engadget). The Starship SN10 prototype might launch this week too, by the way, and Elon Musk gave it a 60% chance of landing.

🥾 “What is something you refuse to buy the cheap version of?” (r/askreddit). Coats, scotch tape, work boots… and more 

Chart Tuesday

If people are googling something, that thing is popular. And when people aren’t, what does that mean? Well, let’s take a look (via r/dataisbeautiful):

social google trends
  • My first shock here is that Instagram might have peaked. That Reddit still hasn’t, and has had the longest line of growth is really interesting, too.
  • And then there’s TikTok, which seems a long way off peaking.
  • Snapchat and Twitter remain strong.
  • As for Facebook, well, it’s hard to say. This is where you might argue not too many people are actually searching for Facebook. They have it. It’s an app they have. But still, 

All the best,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor

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