March 31, 2008 |
Today the makers of the recently launched (yet oddly-named) Chumby internet-connected device have acquired $12.5 million in Series B funding, primarily from JK&B Capital, a new investor for the company. Chumby's other existing venture investors, including Avalon Ventures, Masthead Venture and O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, were also involved in the financing, which will be used to “accelerate growth” of the San Diego-based company, as well as to expand the Chumby Network onto other screen-based web devices.
“We are pleased to receive this financing which will enable us to execute our vision and grow distribution of the Chumby Network,” stated CEO and founder of Chumby Industries, Stephen Tomlin. “As the next step of our strategy, we will focus on establishing relationships to broaden distribution to other screen-based devices such as digital photo frames and LCD TVs.”
For those of you who may not have even heard of the Chumby device before (myself included), it is, in a nutshell, a small 'alarm-clock-like' device which is able to wirelessly access the web. Through the use of a touch-screen and widgets (similar to Yahoo! Widgets or Google Desktop gadgets), owners of the device can easily access various web services, games, or other parts of one's “web life.” Imagine being able to keep track of eBay auctions as well as which MySpace\Facebook friends are online, all from a small alarm clock hybrid.
The looks of the device are just about as odd as the name (resembling the headrest in a car to me), but the idea is actually very interesting and practical. Device owners have free access to the Chumby Network, which contains a wide array of user created and commercial widgets for owners to enjoy and share with each other. Major media partners already on board with Chumby include AOL, CBS, MTV Networks, MySpace, The Weather Channel, and other “top consumer brands,” according to the company.
Instant pluses for the device include the fact that it is based on a fully open-source Linux client (the source code is even available for download), and also the fact that it has free, public developer community. One aspect that could be seen as a downside though is the price. The devices are currently being sold for $179.95 at the official Chumby online store, which seems somewhat overpriced. Sell it for $120 (or even sub-$100), and that's when I would consider purchasing one.