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Former Essential employees are building a startup called OSOM Products

The band is getting back together, minus its most problematic member.

Published onSeptember 3, 2020

  • Leading the startup is Jason Keats, the former head of R&D at Essential.
  • Keats has hired multiple ex-Essential employees to help him on a “new vision.”
  • Andy Rubin does not appear to be involved with the startup.

It was only earlier this year that Essential, Android creator Andy Rubin’s phone startup, shut down, but it seems something good could still come out of a company that ended up mired in controversy. As Android Police points out, Jason Keats, the former head of R&D at Essential, has been building a company called OSOM Products since February. The executive has been hiring some of Essential’s former employees to come work at his new startup.

Some of Keats’ more notable hires include camera engineer Nick Franco, programmers Gary Anderson and Jean-Baptiste Théou and chief marketing officer Wolfgang Muller, all of whom he worked with at Essential. In June, Keats tweeted that he plans to hire another 20 to 30 employees by the end of the year.

As to what they’re up to, it’s hard to say. In a tweet in which he shared a screenshot from the Essential subreddit, Keats wrote, “The core team of innovators from Essential is hard at work, all over the world, on a new vision.”

At this point, it’s too early to tell what exactly that vision entails and whether it even involves a smartphone. While Essential is best known for the PH-1, its one and only release, the company had been working on other projects throughout its existence. At the same time the startup announced the Essential Phone it also showed off the Essential Home, a smart speaker with an emphasis on user privacy. Toward the end of the company’s existence, there was also Project Gem, which Rubin claimed would reframe people’s perspective of mobile devices. Unfortunately, Keats’ Linkedin page doesn’t provide much in the way of additional insight. “Building the next suite of craziness,” he says in describing his role at OSOM.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the startup has in store for consumers. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear Rubin has any involvement with OSOM, which should let it focus on creating great products.

Next: Essential Phone retrospective

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