While Nothing is yet to launch a product of its own, the company has just acquired Essential – the brand responsible for the ill-fated Essential Phone.
Essential Products ceased operations in February 2020, after the rocky release of its debut device – the Essential Phone – not helped by some unsavoury press concerning co-founder and Android co-creator Andy Rubin, dating back to his time at Google.
Almost a year later to the day, fledgeling company Nothing Technologies Limited (created by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei) has snapped up the brand, as spotted by 9to5Google, in a filing submitted to the UK Intellectual Property Office late last year.
The filing completed on 6 January 2021 but was actually issued back in November 2020. As a result, Nothing has taken ownership of Essential’s existing trademarks, logos and branding. It’s unclear whether patents or any other intellectual property also transfers over as part of this development.
Nothing bills itself as a consumer technology company intent on creating “smart devices” and while Pei has since revealed that we can expect its first product to be a pair of wireless headphones (due Summer 2021), we’ve yet to learn what the wider “ecosystem” of products the company has in store looks like.
Whether the company intends to break into the smartphone market itself or saw value in the Essential brand for other reasons is also unknown but considering the pace at which things are moving, we might not have to wait too much longer to find out.
Pei secured initial investment in his new startup at the tail end of 2020, attracting US$7 million in seed financing from big names in tech, including Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman and YouTuber Casey Neistat. GV (formerly Google Ventures) led an additional $15M in Series A funding in February 2021.
At the same time as news of the Essential acquisition broke, Nothing also announced that it was opening up investment opportunities to the general public, looking for an additional $1.5M in community-equity funding.
In a related press release, Nothing stated that “investors will have access to Nothing’s private community through which they will get exclusive benefits and insights into the company.” The company also intends to elect a community board member to represent its public investors.