Belly-Up in Bankruptcy, Quirky Trying to Sell All Assets Including Wink

Ten months ago, Ben Kaufman energetically proclaimed the demise of the thermostat as he talked up a device being rolled out by his New York-based invention platform Quirky, which he believed would trump the incumbents.

Now it is Quirky that is fading out on life support. The company, known for turning inventions submitted by others into real products, said Tuesday it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Furthermore, Quirky said in a blog post it plans to sell off substantially all of its assets.

Kaufman stepped down in August from his CEO role at the company he founded, with Ed Kremer, then CFO, taking over the top executive spot. However, the change in leadership did not come fast enough to wrangle the company’s debts. According to its Crunchbase listing, Quirky had raised some $185.3 million since its founding in 2009.

Quirky might not vanish entirely into the ether, at least not right away. According to the company’s blog post, Quirky got a $15 million stalking horse bid from Flextronics International for its Wink spinoff, which developed a platform for controlling devices from different brands in connected homes. Unless other parties come in with better offers, the deal is expected to close in 60 days.

For now, Wink will continue its operations.

Quirky said it is working with interested parties on possible bids for the rest of its assets, including its brand name and online community of inventors.

This is a sharp reversal of fortunes, at least on the surface, compared with last fall when Quirky brought out partner General Electric to discuss their joint plans to get more connected devices into homes. This product category is still trying to get mainstream adoption, something GE’s chief marketing officer, Beth Comstock, admitted last November. “The reality is most Americans don’t think that smart-home technology is affordable,” she said at the time. Yet she believed connected devices had reached an inflection point and could take off.

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