It's been a terrible year for the company once hailed as New York City's premier invention lab.
First came the realization that without more funding, the company would need to downsize. Then there were the layoffs. By midsummer, founder and CEO Ben Kaufman stepped aside.
And, on Tuesday morning, Quirky filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to a company blog update, the step was taken to "facilitate a sale of substantially all of its assets." It's even selling Wink, the smart-home goods subsidiary of Quirky, which was--and is--being kept alive as the rest of the company has been slowly dismantled over recent months. The documents illuminate that the expected price-tag will be $15 million or more, for Wink alone. (One bidder has already offered that, but it must be put up to an auction.)
Quirky, which was founded in 2009, when Kaufman was just 22 years old, was a platform on which people voted on which inventions would get funded and manufactured. It attracted an admirable slate of investors, including Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, but burned though most of $185 million in venture-capital funding, without being able to assemble a potentially life-saving round of funding this year to follow its latest debt financing last December. I wrote on Inc.com last week:
Before everything fell apart, much worked well at Quirky. When all cylinders were firing, the company's website would receive thousands of invention ideas a week, from more than half-a-million users. And each week, it would approve a handful of those products for development--and send a handful of completed products to its retail partners for sale. Strong partnerships--with online shops such as Amazon, posh locales such as the Museum of Modern Art, and big-box stores such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, and Target--abounded. And their ranks were growing.
The Quirky community also had roughly a million members, and today's company posting illuminates hopes that the concept and brand may have some life left in it: "While the Company was previously forced to temporarily suspend Quirky product evaluation and development projects, it is hopeful that the ultimate successful purchaser will restart those operations and reestablish a meaningful and productive relationship with the community members."
In true startup fashion, anyone who wants to buy this particular zombie is urged to visit a custom URL: quirkybankruptcy.com, of course.