Hanns Tappeiner, who founded Anki with Mark Palatucci and Boris Sofman in 2010, has been named Director of Product Development at Apple’s Special Projects Group. Tappeiner within the last few days updated his LinkedIn profile, which indicates he started working at Apple’s Special Projects Group in August 2019.
Apple scooped up several other former Anki employees after the consumer robotics company closed. According to a former Anki employee, Apple was one of the companies that attended a makeshift career fair at Anki’s office days after employees found out Anki was going out of business. Other companies in attendance, according to the former employee, included Google, Microsoft and Sonos.
Silicon Valley Bank owns Anki’s IP, but it certainly would entertain solid offers for the IP. For the conspiracy theorists out there, Anki’s coming-out party occurred at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2013. Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced Anki, which at the time was building Anki Overdrive using the iOS platform. Would Apple be interested in Anki’s IP? Who knows. You can watch the keynote and Anki’s debut below:
Sofman in June 2019 joined Waymo as its Director of Engineering, Head of Trucking. Sofman wrote at the time he was hired, “I’m honored to be joining the team to lead the autonomous trucking engineering effort. Joining me will be 12 of my former teammates from Anki who represent much of the initial technical team. We’ll be based out of Waymo’s San Francisco offices where we hope to grow the team in the years ahead.”
Anki raised more than $200 million and had revenue of nearly $100 million in revenue in 2017. It expected to exceed that in 2018. Silicon Valley Bank has had a security interest in Anki’s copyrights, patents and trademarks since March 30, 2018. A former Anki employee told The Robot Report a strategic partnership, which could have bridged the gap to the next robot, “fell through at the last minute.”
Unfortunately, Anki, which is being sued for patent infringement, isn’t the only consumer robotics company to shut down in 2019. Earlier this week, UK-based Reach Robotics closed its doors, saying the “consumer robotics sector is an inherently challenging space – especially for a start-up.” Laundroid and Keecker also closed down, highlighting just how difficult the consumer robot market is. Blue Frog Robotics, which has repeatedly delayed its Buddy social robot, recently opened a subsidiary in Boston.