Wireless charging startup uBeam accused of being the next Theranos

uBeam may be vaporware, in line with a blogger claiming to be uBeam’s former vp of engineering. They accuse the startup of being not able to meet promises made approximately its technology. [Update: Reporter Lee Gomes confirmed with the author that they are former uBeam VP of Eng Paul Reynolds. More below]

Ubeam CEO Meredith Perry
uBeam CEO Meredith Perry

uBeam says it’s constructing a device that might wirelessly charge your phone or other electronics fromseveral meters away. but in a chain of blog posts approximately the startup, the author asserts that the product is a sham. The complaint will increase the strain on uBeam to reveal a operating prototype.

TechCrunch can’t verify these accusations or the identity of the blogger, and we’re awaiting a responsefrom uBeam, however the blogger contends that:

uBeam has refused to publicly display a demo because the technology doesn’t paintings
The unique CTO and newly employed CFO have both left the business enterprise
uBeam CEO Meredith Perry tricked co-founder Nora Dweck into an eighty/20 break up of the organizationas opposed to a 50/50 split, in keeping with court docket files. Dweck sued Perry, who “settled out ofcourt with Dweck rumored to get 20% of the organization
The legal guidelines of physics and clinical specialists indicate that “even as in principle [uBeam] may be possible in confined cases, the protection, performance, and economics of it imply it is not even remotely practical.”

We contacted uBeam; it did no longer provide remark. uBeam has again and again defended itself againstpast claims that its era is not possible, announcing it has made clinical breakthroughs, and mentioningexcessive-profile additions of ultrasound specialists to its group, advisors and traders as evidence that it has capability.

The company has claimed that its critics aren’t aware about its proprietary era and are making wrongassumptions about how it works. Perry, 25, has again and again advised me the era is in reality feasible, and that it’s safe and efficient enough to be sensible. nonetheless, she’s repeatedly refused to provide a demo, even though in November said uBeam would subsequently show off its tech in 2016.

The lofty possibility to alternate the way digital gadgets are powered has attracted extra than $23 million in investment from hugename traders, consisting of in advance Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Marissa Mayer and Mark Cuban.

ubeam-chargerTechCrunch has closely included uBeam because of the capability marketplace length for its era and the funding it’s acquired. but, we’ve reiterated our skepticism approximately the product till we see a live, manufacturingequipped demo of cell smartphone charging at a distance.

the new claims dispersed across 20 blog posts on “Lies, damn Lies, and Startup PR” upload gas to this skepticism. info saying the writer left their function as vice chairman of engineering in October after twoand a half of years led participants to Hacker information to call who they agree with to be the author. We’ve contacted that man or woman for extra records, and also commented on the weblog in search ofinformation from the writer.

As those claims come from an alleged former employee and someone unwilling to immediately screen theiridentification, the motives behind why the author posted these reviews are doubtful. however themaximum apparent is they appear to feel that uBeam is misleading its traders, the public or each. We’ve sought remark from lead investor upfront Ventures, as well.

[Update 2pm Pacific: Science news outlet IEEE Spectrum’s Lee Gomes says he’s confirmed with the author that they are indeed former uBeam VP of Engineering Paul Reynolds, as Hacker News contributors suspected. In a tweetstorm, Gomes says uBeam engineers tell IEEE Spectrum that the company isn’t close to delivering its promised product, can’t reach the energy transfer rates it’s purported, and won’t meet the 2016 deadline for a public demo that it told TechCrunch.]

the author writes that they at the beginning joined uBeam in hopes of operating on a challenging troublewith an inspiring CTO, Marc Berte, who left in January 2015. they are sayingwhen I left it was an uglydeparture, however changed into mentioned to the traders as ‘the vice chairman Engineering left forprivate reasons’ — private reasons being ‘sick of placing up with this bullshit’.”

Energous, a competitor inside the wi-fi space, is accused of also by no means releasing a operatingproduct notwithstanding going public and currently having a market cap of $174 million. the author claims Energous is solely designed to financially advantage the founders.

uBeam’s diagram of the way its tech could supposedly be used

finally, the author additionally information why the physics of saturation would critically restriction the space and degree of strength uBeam may want to transmit as to make its promise of charging across a room infeasible. Sprinkled in are various insults and comparisons of Perry to Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, a little one and Smeagol of Lords of the jewelry.

while formerly, derision of uBeam’s product has come from the ones out of doors the organization with out intimate information of ways it’s supposed to paintings, this record is exceptional. If it’s far certainlyfrom uBeam’s former vp of engineering, it can imply uBeam may have excessive issue delivery a wi-fielectricity product that meets its personal promises, or even one which’s beneficial at all.

The accusations could boom scrutiny on uBeam to offer a convincing demo of its technology. otherwise,it may discover it difficult to raise additional investment, lease or hold expertise, and keep away from anegative press spiral.

uBeam CEO Meredith Perry

assignment capitalists in some sectors are increasingly keen to fund severe scientific improvements,even though they may be tons more difficult to do due diligence on than easy software program that may be assessed based totally on immediately marketplace traction. The economics of startups are such that VCs searching for unstable bets that might provide massive returns, despite the fact that it approach aexcessive percent in their investments fail.

but to avoid sizeable wastes of capital that could fund extra worthy and impactful companies, VCs willought to dig deeper than what seems like a massive idea from a clever team.

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