Only a few weeks out from launch and smart-lock company Otto has suspended operations citing a failed acquisition from a multinational bidder. Writing on Medium, CEO Sam Jadallah explain the circumstances,
…(the acquiring business) called me and stated they would not complete the acquisition nor revisit the investment proposal. I was stunned. The reason is still not understood. We had extended our cash to get to the closing date, and now were left without alternatives.
This is a real shame, not only for the team of 30+ at Otto and the numerous presale clients that will never receive their US$699 digital lock, but also for the rest of us because it really was a very good product.
The concept of a digital lock is that it will replace your traditional lock. Instead of opening your door with the key, there is a Bluetooth connection between the lock and your phone; when you approach the door, the lock recognises your phone and when you press a button on the lock it opens.
If you have guests visiting, you can program their phone to temporarily give them access to the house also. If you lose your phone, unpair it using the app and use a four-digit pin code until you get a new device and program that.
The lock could also be paired with a camera, so you could let people in the door remotely while watching them. You could let the dog walker in or let a deliveryman – whose presence you have been alerted to through the lock – leave a package inside the front door.
It had the potential to be a significant leap forward, and the explanation from Otto leaves a lot to be desired. Why was the company running on nothing, when the final deal had not yet been approved? Surely that’s just bad business or, at best, overly optimistic trust.
No doubt more details of the downfall of Otto will come out over the next weeks and months, but in the meantime, hopefully, someone else will pick up the technology and run with it.