Last Friday Quirky posted a quick blog post saying that Ben Kaufman, the company's CEO and founder, was being replaced by Ed Kremer, the company's CFO.
Needless to say, when a company's CEO (and chief visionary) is replaced by the CFO, it's all about the money. Of course, Kaufman has been pretty open about the company's financial struggles over the past month, so none of this is a shock.
What this means for the company long-term is unclear. I'm sure the hope internally was that there would be a financial white knight, but at this point it looks like one might not be imminent.
Kaufman was the soul of Quirky in many ways, representing both the creative spirit of the innovation-incubator/smart home product company and its primary public-facing identity. It's like Makerbot losing Bre Pettis, only before a liquidity event.
It's also unclear what this means for some of Quirky's key alliances. GE and Home Depot may have already been tiring of Quirky's issues, but I suspect Kaufman's charismatic leadership and vision for crowdsourced innovation was one of the reasons the company was able to punch above its weight for much of its life, so it will be interesting to see what Kaufman's exit means moving forward. GE is still an investor in the company, so it's still very much in the company's financial interest to revive Quirky.
Mike Isaacs had an interesting comment over on Linkedin about a recent effort at Quirky to right the ship, as well as a spot-on comment about Ben himself who, despite this latest development, had no doubt created something interesting in Quirky:
Quirky just launched a renewed effort they called Quirky 2.0 which was suppose to refocus them on what made Quirky, Quirky, the inventor. Looks like this reboot never really stood much of a chance. Focusing solely on Wink and abandoning his passion for the inventor may have been the breaking point. Let's hope that Kaufman 2.0 reboots quickly as the industry needs passionate and visionary guys like him
It'll be interesting to see what Kaufman's next act is. $186 million in venture funding is a lot to burn through, so I'm not sure he'll get to another shot at something as big as Quirky, but I'm sure he'll be back doing something interesting around hardware innovation.
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