Mycroft AI Posts Online Public Offering for Equity Investment
Mycroft AI today launched an online public offering (OPO) for equity investment in the company. This means non-accredited investors will be able to participate and invest to acquire equity in the voice assistant and smart speaker company. Offering details can be accessed through this link.
Crunchbase reports that Mycroft has raised approximately $3 million since founding in 2015. However, the total funding may be higher. The funding has included participation by accelerators 500 Startups and Techstars, angel investors, strategic investors including Jaguar Land Rover and two successful Indigogo campaigns for device pre-orders. The most recent campaign for Mycroft’s Mark II smart speaker with a display raised over $450,000. Mycroft CEO Joshua Montgomery said in a YouTube video posted about the online public offering:
We put together this equity crowdfunding offering to allow anyone to invest in Mycroft.
The video goes into detail about the history of Mycroft, it’s vision for an independent voice assistant not controlled by a large tech company and some information that may be useful to prospective investors.
The Online Public Offering Rationale
Mycroft’s Montgomery was able to provide additional information about the status of the company and its capability set in an email interview this morning. When asked why the company was pursuing an OPO given that it already had a track record of successful fund raising from venture capital, Montgomery responded at length:
“In three words: WhatsApp, GitHub and Makerbot. As you saw in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Facebook didn’t live up to their ‘all privacy, no tracking, no advertisements’ commitment when they bought WhatsApp. Their behavior was so egregious that the WhatsApp founders left the company with more than $900 million on the table. Makerbot took VC funding and suddenly their technology was closed off. Soon they were sold. GitHub? Might be the next casualty.
Where Mycroft is Headed
Montgomery was also able to shed light on when Mycroft will support languages in addition to English and how it will expand beyond direct sales in the future.
“We officially support English, but just today the Common Voice community launched collection efforts in German, Welsh and French. We are a big part of that effort. By the end of next summer we plan to support 20 languages and will deploy tools that make it easy to translate Mycroft’s capability into any language with a writing system.
“Mycroft releases to production in February 2019. We plan to do one post production release in August of 2019, then go to mass market with a major retail partner…You should look for Mycroft in retail stores on Black Friday 2019. After we release to production in 2019, I expect several of the assistant agnostic vendors will start deploying Mycroft [in smart speakers] in addition to the two major players.”
Growing Device Revenue
An interesting piece of information was revealed in a chart included in the video related to Mycroft revenue to date. It appears the company booked about $300,000 in revenue in 2017 and has already booked more than that in 2018. Some of that 2018 booked revenue is likely early shipments of the Mycroft Mark II, but could include other work the company is doing for enterprise clients.
Total 2018 revenue is projected at around $1.5 million with a forecast of $8 million in 2019. It is not clear how that projected revenue will breakdown between device sales, software and services. Hopefully, more will be revealed when the offering goes live later today.
The Rise of Independent, Privacy-Centric Voice Assistants
Mycroft stresses that its voice assistant and smart speakers are both independent of the big tech platforms and provides user privacy driven by the solution’s software architecture. The company is also different in that its software is open source and the company is focused on building a robust developer community that continually adds to the code base. Another company vying for the position of independent and privacy-focused voice assistant is the France and New York-based Snips.ai. Snips recently announced it too would build a smart speaker and fund expansion using another crowdfunding method, an initial coin offering (ICO).
Both Mycroft and Snips support voice assistant deployment on a variety of hardware including Raspberry Pi and have targeted the maker community to build an early user base. The good news is that independent platforms are now getting a chance to grow and offer consumers and alternative to Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. More competition is good for driving innovation and greater consumer choice.