Jibo backers and enthusiasts, understandably, aren’t thrilled. Case in point: this open letter to Jibo written by Scott Saunders, a self-proclaimed Jibo backer who said he funded Jibo on July 18, 2014. If Jibo ships to backers on October 18, 2016, that means Saunders would have waited 27 months to receive his social robot. Better late than never? Maybe.
Saunders wrote this letter following Jibo’s announcement on April 8, 2016, that it won’t be hitting its March/April timeframe. Here’s Saunders’ open letter in full:
To anyone at Jibo who will listen,
I consider myself to be a pretty sensible person not easily taken in by fads or shiny new things. Jibo was my first and only indiegogo or kickerstarter type campaign I have ever funded, and after this it will probably be my last. My financial backing of the Jibo was due in no small part to the extremely well produced promotional video on the indiegogo site which made it seem like Jibo was a nearly finished product. In retrospect I feel like a stupid, naive, little kid who foolishly bought a toy rocket because it was in a box with a picture of a cool flying rocket, and as an adult I am embarrassed by this.
Those of us who are your early backers have seen multiple release push backs for several months, to say your communication of those push backs has been poor would be a gross understatement, that information seems to have escaped rather than been released. I feel that I have been lied to, not so much related to what the Jibo is or can do but the state of it’s completion, your capacity to produce these machines, and the state of the SDK. This deception has been fed by the periodic releases of video after video of developers using the sdk and numerous Jibo demonstrations over what has been almost two years, leading me to think that getting my Jibo was just around the corner. From what I have experienced your company has not been anywhere near a state of preparedness for mass production. Nothing has illustrated this more than the inexcusable and extraordinary late release of the Jibo SDK. I originally funded Jibo on July 18th 2014, meaning It has taken you nearly two years to give us a beta of the SDK. TWO YEARS for something that was originally scheduled for release in September of 2015, and the SDK is something with zero supply cost. There are no parts to order, there is no supply chain. You are even using Atom and Electron, a development framework that was already in existence. I am truly baffled by how an error in projection that large can even happen.
While I was happy to see the release of the SDK, and have had fun working with it, this just seems to be yet another stall, something to appease the angry masses before they arm themselves with staves and pitchforks. The level of arrogance displayed by this company is staggering. I feel ignored, marginalized and that you can’t be bothered to keep us informed about Jibo’s status. If you had been open, honest, and clearly stated the production issues I think most of us would have been patient and understanding. Now this latest ploy is to tell us that it’s going to be pushed back yet again, coupled with the fact that you’re not going to tells us when for almost a month, and to add to that, as you put it, “purchased Jibo at a far lower price than he’ll cost when we launch” (as if you are doing us a favor). Leaves me angry beyond words. It is insulting and shows us no respect as your backers. I have no doubt you are thinking this will buy you just a little more time, and maybe we won’t be so angry when you tell us it’s going to be pushed back for another six more months. If you do this it will not be good for you or us as your backers.
Since you don’t seem to care about those of us who have financially supported you let me appeal to you and the potential damage you could do to yourselves and your company. You are all on the cusp of a marketing and publicity nightmare, you have shown enough errors with your backers to create more than a little doubt in your capabilities as a company. All it will take is one industrious news outlet to notice this and your company could suffer as a result. You should all be very concerned about your future careers, families and reputations if you do not to the right thing, and do it very soon.
After saying all this I know I could ask for refund, but that would be the easy way out for both of us. For me it’s a reminder to be leery of boxes with pictures of cool flying rockets, and for you to serve as a reminder of the broken trust of someone who made an investment in you and your idea.
I realize all this sounds harsh and deep down I hope I’m completely wrong about all this, and that I will have to offer up a big apology some time soon. Nothing would make me happier than to come home one day and see a Jibo sized box on my door step.
Thank you for your time,
Here’s hoping Saunders and all Jibo backers finally do receive their Jibos in October 2016. If not, things will only get uglier for the most successful crowdfunded robot of all time.