Pearl Automation, a startup built by ex-Apple engineers that raised $50 million ($66.2 million CDN) to build automotive tech, has shut down, according to a new report from Axios.
Pearl’s flagship (and now only) product was Pearl RearVision, a $500 USD digital wireless rearview camera that users attached to their vehicle’s rear license plate and viewed on their smartphone.
In the company’s earlier days, it built its reputation on the fact that many of its employees were in fact ex-Apple workers. When the company was first launched last year, about 50 of its 70 employees had spent time working for the Cupertino-based tech giant.
In June of last year the company was able to raise $50 million USD in a Series A funding round, with investors including the likes of Accel Partners, Shasta Ventures, Wellcome Trust, and Venrock.
The RearVision sold for $499 ($660 CDN) in the US — not cheap, but cheaper than the alternative, the company argued in its marketing materials. It “sounds like a lot until you back into a Harley [Davidson motorcycle],” the company said.
“Until now, getting a quality backup camera installed would set you back thousands of dollars,” it continued. “And even that would be worth it compared to the repair bills that come with one teeny, tiny fender bender.”
Pearl CEO Bryson Gardner said in September that the RearView was only the first in a planned set of tech accessories intended to augment traditional cars — but it looks like they will now never see the light of day.
It was a hard sell to begin within for this camera, considering Transport Canada had a May 2018 deadline for all cars sold here to require a backup camera, a similar timeline as the USA.