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'Mycroft' Open-Source Voice Assistant Out of Funds, Can't Fulfill Remaining Kickstarter Rewards

Sunday February 12, 2023. 06:34 PM , from Slashdot
In 2019 Slashdot covered Mycroft, an open-source voice assistant for Linux-based devices (including Raspberry Pi boards). But this week the company's CEO posted on Kickstarter that 'without immediate new investment, we will have to cease development by the end of the month....

'We will still be shipping all orders that are made through the Mycroft website, because these sales directly cover the costs of producing and shipping the products. However we do not have the funds to continue fulfilling rewards from this crowdfunding campaign, or to even continue meaningful operations.'

The announcement details Mycroft's long, strange trip, from a hardware-focused partner that couldn't provide stable hardware to their switch to using off-the-shelf parts — followed by supply chain disruptions (with hefty import and manufacturing fees):
The best plan we could devise to fulfill the remaining campaign rewards was to use the slim margins we have on new sales to cover the increased costs of hardware production. With that plan in mind, we pushed forward and started production. We got plastic injection molds cast. We started printing custom PCBs. We engaged audio engineers to optimize the quality and volume of the sound output. We got the device FCC and CE approved. Many of these steps took multiple iterations to get right, and there are many more things that I'm glossing over. All up this costs — a lot of money. Far more than the total contributions from the campaign, which is why I personally committed so much additional funding. I could see a clear way forward that strengthened Mycroft as a project, as a business, and as a community.

So what went wrong? The single most expensive item that I could not predict was our ongoing litigation against the non-practicing patent entity that has never stopped trying to destroy us. If we had that million dollars we would be in a very different state right now.

With so much of our focus on hardware, and less funding to devote to improving our software — the quality and features available on the Mark II at launch were clearly underwhelming. It is more robust and stable than it has ever been, but this came at the cost of fewer new features. That in turn I believe has resulted in less than flattering reviews, and little mainstream coverage. The hardware itself has proven itself to be a solid base to work from, but without good reviews you get less sales, and without strong sales, the plan doesn't work.

Thanks to stx23 (Slashdot reader #14,942) for sharing the news.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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