Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, Chief Scientist at Jibo, and CEO Steve Chambers and newly-hired VP of Consumer & Development Relations Lynda Smith, are launching the Indiegogo campaign and Jibo 1.0. Should Jibo pursue a platform strategy at launch, or should the company build initial applications themselves and evolve into a platform strategy over time?
Jeffrey J. Bussgang and Christine Snively
Harvard Business Review (816003-PDF-ENG)
December 03, 2015
Case questions answered:
- Provide a detailed summary of the case.
- Discuss the case dilemma.
- Should Jibo pursue a platform strategy at launch, or should the company build the initial applications themselves and evolve into a platform strategy over time?
- When it comes time to develop a platform strategy, should Jibo take a top-down approach (with strategic partners), a bottom-up (developer-driven) approach, or a combination of the two?
- If you were hired as head of strategy and in the room with Breazeal, Chambers, and Smith, what execution plan would you recommend to attract developer investment in a platform that will not be shipping for over a year?
- What are the reason for product deletion?
- Why and when does a company decide to delete a product? What the guidelines for deciding the product deletion?
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Case answers for Jibo: A Social Robot for the Home
Introduction & Case Synopsis – Jibo: A Social Robot for the Home
Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, Chief Scientist at Jibo, and CEO Steve Chambers and newly-hired VP of Consumer & Development Relations Lynda Smith, are launching the Indiegogo campaign and Jibo 1.0. Dr. Breazeal is considered as the inventor of the social robotics field.
Born in New Mexico, Dr. Breazeal graduated from UCSB, MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab and then done her Ph.D. from MIT in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She developed Kismet, an anthropomorphic robotic head, largely recognized as the world’s first social robot, as a part of her dissertation (exhibit 1).
She joined the faculty at the MIT Media Lab in 2000 and has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles, wrote the book Designing Sociable Robots, and served on several robotics journal editorial boards. In 2009, she turned her attention to launching a start-up that would bring robots into the home.
LAUNCHING THE STARTUP
At the onset, she teamed up with Jerry Asher and considered developing a healthcare agent for smartphones, later shifted to consumer products.
They generated $2.2 mn in seed funding and recruited a small number of engineers to create an initial concept for the product. At around that time, Steve Chambers was elected as the advisor and chairman of the board.
Then, the Jibo prototype was created. The Jibo robot could identify, learn, and expressively engage with humans. It would also share expressive messages called Jiboticons.
Venture capital firms encouraged Jibo to launch a crowdfunding campaign for pre-orders to prove a market for the robot.
INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN: INTRODUCING JIBO
Jibo launched a crowdfunding campaign for pre-orders of the robot through the Indiegogo online crowdfunding platform in July 2014. The company created a three-minute movie to introduce the robot to potential customers. From there, customers could choose to pre-order a home edition ($599) or a developer edition ($699).
The company then recruited former Netflix executive Andy Atkins as VP of engineering, former iRobot executive Todd Pack as chief robot architect, and other key technical staff.
In the first month of the campaign, it generated $1.75 mn in sales and sold 4,800 units, i.e., $2.6 million in sales by the end of the campaign. 30% of all pre-orders were for developer editions.
Jibo was 12 inches tall and weighed eight pounds (Exhibit 2). It is equipped with cameras to track and recognize faces, facilitate video conferences, and take photos. Its natural language processing capabilities allowed it to understand limited human speech.
Jibo’s face is a touchscreen with stereo cameras, speakers, and a microphone array in the head. The body is separated into three regions, each of which could be motor-driven through 360 degrees, allowing Jibo to swivel toward the speaker in a room or look as if it were dancing a jig and create other expressive movements in place.
JIBO 1.0 BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
During its business development stage, the company recruited key commercial executives with deep industry experience and knowledge. Asher was put in charge of forming strategic partnerships with large companies interested in developing content for Jibo.
Recruited Lynda Smith as VP of Consumer & Development Relations for building a scalable program to serve and enable developers to build skills that would be made available in the Jibo Skills Store, the marketplace for apps for Jibo
IN-HOUSE DEVELOPMENT VS PLATFORM STRATEGY
The team agreed upon a platform strategy utilizing a community of developers to create Jibo Skills to help the company scale. The API provided to the developers will give them instructions on developing code utilizing Jibo’s voice technology.
STRATEGIC CONTENT PARTNERSHIPS
Jibo looked to establish…