May 31, 2017

Andy Rubin's long-term plan for Essential

After unveiling his new smartphone earlier in the day, Android co-founder Andy Rubin talked Tuesday night about his broader plan for Essential, his new consumer electronics company.

The company, which has around 80 employees, is doing a phone and a home device, but longer-term Rubin says he wants to create a whole new consumer electronics brand.

"It's a new brand," Rubin said, in an interview at Code Conference. "It's not just phones. You have a rare opportunity when the market is saturated."

To do that, Rubin is going to need a lot of money. While the company hasn't said how much it has raised, Essential included the logos of several investors on its Web site, a list that includes contract manufacturer Foxconn, Rubin's incubator Playground, Redpoint, Access Technology Ventures, Tencent, VY Capital and Altimeter Capital.

On stage at Code, Rubin confirmed that Redpoint and Playground were part of a $30 million early round and that the company has since raised a second round of funding. Rubin says the company has raised "hundreds of millions of dollars." He also talked about the company's plans for its other initial product, a voice-controlled hub for the home with a round screen.

Why do we need a home hub?

"There's too many things you have to interact with in your home," Rubin said, noting that today you need a separate app for things like smart locks and doorbells, not to mention all the different assistants.

Will it support Google Assistant, Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa?

I'm going to offer to support all of those. It's really up to the companies. ... I want to be inclusive and I want to interoperate.

How much will it cost?

We don't have a price yet. (The phone does have a price. Essential is selling it for $699 unlocked via pre-orders on its Web site.)

When will the phone ship?

"Soon," Rubin said, adding that he wouldn't take orders if he wasn't planning to ship it in the next 30 days or so. The phone will initially sell via the Web but Rubin said the plan is to also sell it at retail and through wireless carriers.

Go deeper

Coronavirus updates: Market ends worst week since financial crisis

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The stock market ended its worst week since the financial crisis, prompting the Fed to release a statement. Meanwhile, the WHO warned that countries are losing their chance to contain the novel coronavirus and raised its global risk assessment to "very high" Friday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,860 people and infected more than 84,000 others in over 60 countries and territories outside the epicenter in mainland China. The number of new cases reported outside China now exceed those inside the country.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Health

California coronavirus: Latest case has no recent history of international travel

Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

A new case of the novel coronavirus in California was announced on Friday after Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that 33 people had tested positive for the virus, noting the risk to the public remains low.

What's new: An adult woman with chronic health conditions in Santa Clara County who "did not recently travel overseas" or come into contact with anyone known to be ill was confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus on Friday by CDC and California Department of Public Health officials.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 7 hours ago - Health

Big video game conference delayed amid coronavirus concerns

Photo: GDC

Next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco became the latest tech event to be cancelled or postponed amid growing concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: A growing number of events are being scrapped, including Mobile World Congress and Facebook's F8 developer conference. Some, like the giant SXSW event in Austin, insist they are moving forward.