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Quirky Vision of Crowdsourcing Inventions Fails

November 2, 2015 by Jason Small

Quirky was launched in 2009 as an invention platform to help inventors with the expertise needed to bring their ideas to market. The company's primary focus was on smart home gadgets after the funding by GE in 2013.

In recent months though, their struggle to become profitable was more and more public. After publicly indicated that the company would have to seek additional funding to keep going in July, CEO Ben Kaufman stepped down several months later as the company laid off droves of employees in an effort to stay afloat. Running into a huge security related recall during the period they were seeking funding likely drove potential buyers away, choosing instead to bid on the company after it went under. The writing was on the wall, and Quirky subsequently filed bankruptcy. The assets of the company were auctioned off, with tech manufacturer Flextronics buying up the scraps for $15 million in September.

Their most famous product was the Wink home automation hub, which now lives on under Flextronics and has recently been announcing additional partners and software updates. The device is popular due to its support of multiple home automation protocols in Zigbee and Z-Wave but Wink hub reviews online have given it mixed marks due to software reliability problems.

But for now, at least, it appears the dream of an inventor's incubator to help bring products to the market is a bust. Even towards the end, Quirky shifted from making products to partnering with other more established technology companies to have products made. That seemed to be an admission that the in-house engineering staff had simply taken on more than they could handle after several initial products created on the crowd-sourced model suffered from design and reliability problems when used in smart homes.