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Anki's latest robot, Vector, went on sale last October for $249. Photo: Anki

As of last fall, Anki seemed to be winning where other companies had fallen short: Making a go of a consumer robot that was more fun but less powerful than a smartphone.

Driving the news: In the end, though, the maker of Cozmo and Vector suffered the same fate as the others, announcing Monday it was shutting down and laying off its entire staff despite having raised more than $200 million in funding.

What's happening: Anki found itself at the intersection of two very tough businesses — kids' tech toys and consumer robotics. A number of promising startups have gone out of businesses, while others, such as Sphero, are pivoting to the education market.

What they're saying:

  • Anki: "We've shipped millions of units of product and left customers happy all over the world while building some of the most incredible technologies pointed toward a future with diverse AI and robotics driven applications. But without significant funding to support a hardware and software business and bridge to our long-term product roadmap, it is simply not feasible at this time."
  • Touch Press CEO Barry O'Neill: "Anki made really good, smart stuff. Kids digital business, robots or not, is really hard."
  • Tech analyst Carolina Milanesi: "As a Cozmo parent I am sorry to see this news but not surprised. This area is a fast moving one and unfortunately many just see it as a toy — and toys go in and out of favor quickly."

The big picture: The company had a long-term vision for a digital robot along the lines of Richie Rich's Irona or the Jetsons' Rosie, but knew that was a decade away. They had hoped to amass the technology — fund the path there — by selling robots with more limited capabilities.

The bottom line: This is a space ripe for innovation, but it's going to be tough to get there if startups can't stay in business.

Go deeper

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

38 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.