Amazon Alexa Fund and Revolution Put $50 Million Into TrackR
TrackR has received $50 million in new funding from Revolution Growth and the Amazon Alexa Fund. TrackR’s primary products are medallions that connect to your smartphone by Bluetooth. These enable you to find the things in life that “go lost,” from time-to-time using an app. In addition, TrackR makes the Find My Phone Alexa skill. You can use this TrackR skill on Alexa to ring your phone so it is easier to locate.
Over $60 Million Raised to Date
According to Crunchbase, TrackR has now raised $60 million in six rounds from 13 investors. The Alexa Fund is Amazon’s $100 million venture capital vehicle for driving growth of new voice technology startups. The fund participated in an earlier venture round and the current B round. However, total investment in the rounds was not disclosed. An announcement by TrackR in April 2016 stated that it was one of 15 companies that had received between $250,000 and $500,000 in investment from The Amazon Alexa Fund specifically to increase the reach of its TrackR Atlas product that is focused on voice enablement.
Business Insider reported that:
Paul Bernard, director of corporate development for the Alexa Fund, said in a statement: ‘The Alexa Fund is excited to continue our support of TrackR through this follow-on investment, which will help build on their vision for the intersection of their item tracking system and Alexa.’
TrackR Alexa Skill Not the Driver of Company Growth
The key complaint about the TrackR Alexa skill is that it can only ring your phone if you have the mobile app open on your phone. The app can be in background and the device screen off, but it must be open to work. That has led to a rash of one star reviews and an overall two-star rating from 490 reviews. TechCrunch reported a comment today from an early investor, Brad Feld, of Foundry Group:
“TrackR’s growth rate since our investment has been dramatic.”
Given the tepid customer reception and lack of revenue model for services on Amazon Alexa, the funding is not driven by Alexa adoption. The favorable growth rate that led to the funding is more likely a factor of selling the coin-sized TrackR medallions for key rings and other every-day carry items and use of the mobile app.
Amazon and Alexa Fund Has Cache
Despite the fact that Revolution Growth led the round and The Alexa Fund likely put in a comparably small amount of funding, the Amazon and Alexa Fund terms are showing up in a lot of the coverage. It reinforces that fact that Amazon and Alexa are great brand names with a lot of current momentum. TrackR could have shaped the story as IoT which is really a more accurate categorization. However, the Alexa angle makes it seem like a “voice” story. IoT may be a big trend and hot sector right now, but voice is trendier and hotter. So, expect more businesses to attach the voice angle to their news whenever possible.
By the way. IFTTT has a great “find my phone” applet that doesn’t require an app to be active on your phone. How do they do it? Alexa sends a notification to IFTTT which then initiates a service to call your phone. Problem solved! That is, unless you have your phone on silent or turned off.
And, the new Life Bot skill also has a great “find my phone” feature as well as an easy SMS-based sign up process.