After 6 Years and $26M, Insolvent Chumby Selling Remaining Assets

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Best Buy to provide Chumby’s app portfolio to the retailer’s “Insignia” line of Internet-connected products. Sony also licensed technology from Chumby for its “Dash” device and Sony Tablet S.

It was hard to pivot, however. “The first blow was the iPhone, a small device with unbelievable capabilities,” Oien says. “The real blow was cheap tablets, Android tablets. I can stick a tablet on my nightstand and it does everything.”

In our phone call this morning, Oien tells me Chumby’s end became apparent by the end of last year. “We were looking to sell the company,” Oien says. One prospective deal fell through, but Oien managed to arrange what he called a “talent sale” that conveyed about 30 employees and some technology to Technicolor, the multimedia technology company with more than 42,000 patents and a 95-year Hollywood legacy.

The remainder of Chumby was turned over to a liquidation trustee in February. Oien says he has been helping to sell off the remaining assets, which include a variety of technology and patents.

“From an investor perspective, it was a bad outcome,” Oien says. These days, technology evolves at such a breakneck pace—especially Web-based technologies—that the hardware aspect of the business made it difficult to quickly shift the company.

As sad as it was, Oien says he believes someone will pick up the assets. The software created to run funky clock radios on the low-power Chumby device can find broader use running Internet TV, and Oien says most of Chumby’s major partners showed interest in acquiring the technology.

“The cost to keep the network of Chumby devices up is something less than $5,000 a month,” Oien says. “The partners have a vested interest in keeping that going. Chumby will carry on in some form.”

Oien also has moved on. After returning to Avalon for a short time as an entrepreneur-in-residence, he says he’s leading a new startup in Del Mar, CA, called ScoreStream that is using Facebook and Twitter to crowd-source high school sports scores.

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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3 responses to “After 6 Years and $26M, Insolvent Chumby Selling Remaining Assets”

  1. Scott LaFee says:

    Mr. Bigelow: An excellent story, some nice rhetorical flashes, a spot-on blend of serious news and whimsy for a device that was both oh-so-cute and oh-so-doomed. Nice job.

  2. Thanks Scott! Is it OK if I stop by Saturday to mow your lawn? And then I can wash your car right after that.