Humane, the hardware startup behind the AI Pin, in talks with HP and telecoms for potential sale

Humane, the AI startup founded by former Apple designers, is reportedly looking for a potential buyer following the lukewarm reception of its AI Pin wearable, according to CNBC, citing sources familiar with the situation.

Sources disclosed to CNBC that Humane is currently in discussions with HP and several other firms, including multiple telecom companies. The startup has enlisted the services of investment bank Tidal Partners to guide them through a potential sale, the sources added. The New York Times initially reported on the negotiations with HP.

This development comes shortly after Bloomberg’s report, less than a month ago, indicating that Humane was seeking buyers at a valuation ranging from $750 million to $1 billion. The company was valued at $850 million during its October funding round.

The Humane AI Pin, once touted as a potential “smartphone killer,” has struggled with a barrage of negative reviews since its launch in April. Public feedback has been overwhelmingly critical.

“The company is currently in talks with HP and other firms, including more than one telecom company. Humane has hired investment bank Tidal Partners to advise on a potential deal, the source said,” CNBC reported.

Humane had promoted its AI Pin, a device designed to be worn on the lapel, as a smartphone replacement. It promised functionalities like making calls, sending texts, and performing search queries via voice control. Priced at $699, the AI Pin also requires a $24 monthly data subscription to T-Mobile.

However, when Humane distributed the AI Pin to gadget reviewers in April, the reception was less than stellar. Many reviewers deemed it unreliable and impractical, with descriptions ranging from “more science project than finished product” to “totally broken” and a mere “party trick.”

In April, a source familiar with the company’s operations acknowledged to CNBC that Humane had not met its original expectations but noted that it’s common for hardware startups to face challenges at launch. The source mentioned that the company was approximately six months behind schedule, which wasn’t surprising given the ambitious nature of the project.

Founded in 2018 by former Apple designers and married couple Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, Humane generated a lot of buzz when it launched the $699 AI Pin in November 2023. The wearable AI pin, a magnetic device that clips onto clothing, is designed to serve as a smartphone replacement, enabling users to make calls, send texts, and access information using voice commands. It boasts a laser display that transforms the palm into a miniature screen, capable of displaying the time, date, or nearby information.

Last year, Humane secured $100 million in funding from Microsoft, LG’s venture arm, and Tiger Global before announcing its device, bringing its total funding to over $200 million. Notable backers include OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Why does this matter? Despite the introduction of wearables like the AI Pin and Rabbit’s r1, none have achieved widespread adoption. With AI increasingly being integrated into devices and the upcoming release of Siri 2.0, smartphones may soon evolve into the only AI devices users truly need.

Even influential YouTube gadget reviewer Marques Brownlee described it as “probably the worst product I’ve ever reviewed.” Similarly, TechRadar lambasted the AI Pin, calling it an “undercooked flop.”

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