Friday, May 13, 2016

"Another Red-Hot Tech Start-Up Was Just Accused of Being a Scam"

We've been waiting for the venture capitalists to comment but so far nothing,
From Vanity Fair, May 11:
When uBeam made its splashy debut in the tech press in 2012, its premise sounded too good to be true. The Los Angeles–based start-up claimed it was pioneering a new system that could charge devices wirelessly from meters away, but how? The start-up hadn’t brought a product to market, so critics tried doing the physics themselves and came up short. Meanwhile, a rich roster of investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, UpFront Ventures, Yahoo C.E.O. Marissa Mayer, and Mark Cuban (who called uBeam a “zillion-dollar idea”), pumped tens of millions of dollars into the company, turning its twentysomething founder, Meredith Perry, into a star. In an attempt to quell critics, uBeam declassified information last year to satisfy skeptics who criticized uBeam’s technology as either ineffective or unsafe.

Perhaps nobody would know uBeam’s products and technologies better than one of its engineers. And an anonymous engineer who has since identified himself as the company’s former V.P. of engineering, Paul Reynolds, has come forward with a series of blog posts about uBeam. In a set of posts on a blog titled “Lies, Damn Lies, and Startup PR,” Reynolds comes out and says uBeam, the start-up at which he worked for more than two years, is more or less peddling snake oil. Or, as TechCrunch’s Josh Constine puts it, uBeam has been accused of being the “next Theranos.” (Theranos, as you might recall, is the $9 billion blood-testing company whose reputation was all but obliterated in the past year, in the wake of a series of Wall Street Journal reports asserting that its much-hyped technology doesn’t actually work.) A request for comment from uBeam was not immediately returned.

Reynolds is candid about uBeam’s alleged failures in his series of blog posts, which range from detailed explanations of math and physics concepts behind the technology that uBeam and its competitors claim to be building, to why he joined the company in the first place....MORE
Reynolds' blog posts are, on their face, quite damning.