Android co-founder's startup raises $300 million

Essential attracts major investment

Andy Rubin, co-founder of Android, has reportedly raised $300 million in investment of his technology startup Essential.

As reported by Bloomberg Technology, analysis firm Equidate proposed that the financing round valued Essential at $900 million to $1 billion. Essential apparently submitted paperwork on the new investment in late May, just before Rubin unveiled the startup's phone and AI assisted speaker.

IT Pro has contacted Essential for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Rubin left Google in 2014 and set up his own investment company called Playground. Essential raised $30 million from Playground and Redpoint Ventures before the latest financing last year.

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Essential's phone is priced at $699, runs Android and has a 5.7in QHD screen with a fingerprint sensor as well as a Snapdragon 835 processor, 4GB RAM and 128GB storage. It has a 13MP rear camera and a 8MP front camera, weighs 185g and uses a 3040 mAh battery, too. The unique selling point is that users can add mods to the phone, the first of which will be a 360 camera.

Rubin's new device is reminiscent of Google's Project Ara, which aimed to build the world's first modular smartphone to allow users to swap hardware in and out as they upgraded or changed. In the end, this failed, and Google shelved the project last September.

Essential is also developing an AI powered device for people's homes, called the Essential Home, which will run on its own operating system, the Ambient OS. Whereas Essential will have to compete in a fairly hard smartphone market, the AI home device market has only just launched so it may have more success there.

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