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Arrington's CrunchPad Dies 175

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hooray-for-greed dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Michael Arrington announced the death of the CrunchPad on Monday morning in a blog post heavily spiced with angst and drama. According to Arrington, the Crunchpad, a 12-inch Web tablet expected to be priced at about $300, was just days away from launch. At the last minute, however, Arrington received an email from Chandra Rathakrishnan, the chief executive of manufacturing partner Fusion Garage, apparently trying to cut Arrington out of the product on the eve of the launch. Fusion Garage, according to Arrington, wanted to market the device itself under its own name; which obviously was the deal breaker. Arrington claims that the company had overcome obstacles at every stage in the business such as deals with Intel, retail launch, securing venture capital and angel investments. Interesting bit is that some were already speculating that the Crunchpad was not real."
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Arrington's CrunchPad Dies

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  • Unfortunate (Score:2, Interesting)

    by milas (988484) on Monday November 30, 2009 @02:10PM (#30272160) Homepage
    But here's to hoping it relaunches with an ARM processor running Chrome OS! This seems like the perfect application for it, really.
  • They're right.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cephalien (529516) <benjaminlungerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday November 30, 2009 @02:12PM (#30272184)

    It -isn't- real.

    Not until they're actually being produced.

    So yes, this is vaporware (at least for now)

  • Arrogant Power Play (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FireIron (838223) on Monday November 30, 2009 @02:16PM (#30272240)
    I would have been a customer for this device, but after this I will not now or ever buy anything under the Fusion Garage brand.
  • by VMaN (164134) on Monday November 30, 2009 @02:24PM (#30272380) Homepage

    I wonder if I'll still stick to my principles if the "wrong" company will produce this thing..

  • Shareholders... (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 30, 2009 @02:26PM (#30272402)

    ...smells like Apple or Microsoft got hold of some of the shareholders or of the CEO.

    Hows that for conspiracy?

    AC

  • by cabjf (710106) on Monday November 30, 2009 @02:29PM (#30272418)
    Unless they rework everything that touches the co-owned intellectual property, there is no way Fusion Garage can legally ship anything. Arrington said as much and stated that a lawsuit would be waiting for Fusion Garage should they attempt to ship anything without CrunchPad's approval.
  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday November 30, 2009 @02:46PM (#30272624) Homepage

    This is pretty run-of-the-mill back stabbing in OEM/ODM business.

    1. The manufacturer sees an opportunity with a weak 'partner'
    2. Screws the partner.
    3. Profit!

    The thing is 'Fusion Garage' would have screwed him even if they worked a geographic restrictions deal out. If there was any meaningful market acceptance, any number of bigger OEM's would have taken their lunch in ~24 months.

    Sad it has to go like this, but this very common unless you are an HP/Apple/Dell. Typical chicken-egg capitalism problem.

  • by WaywardGeek (1480513) on Monday November 30, 2009 @02:47PM (#30272626) Journal

    And a few days before launch and dies for such a stupid reason? Please.

    I'm guessing you've never started a company. When you do, you'll find out that a fair number of your friends turn into psychopaths when money is involved. This is why the best number of partners in any new venture is 1. I got screwed by AMIS in a somewhat similar situation. We co-developed the Express Array using our technology from cell design to routing. The first chip came out and worked 8 months after we started this very aggressive project. The day the chip worked, AMIS basically said "we don't need you anymore. Fuck off and die now." For AMIS, the entire project was delayed a year. It was incredible, unexplainable stupidity. And yet, it's an entirely common story.

  • by jfruhlinger (470035) on Monday November 30, 2009 @03:10PM (#30272870) Homepage

    Translation: I'd like to cash in on Arrington's hard work.

    I have no reason to doubt that Arrington is being screwed here, and that he does in fact have intellectual property rights that are being trampled on, but how much hard work did he actually do on this thing? My understanding is that he mostly said, "I want this thing with these specs at this price, make it happen" and his manufacturing partner is the one that actually built it.

    Arrington is providing (a) his services as a sort of ideal end-user (i.e. if this one tech-savvy guy really, really wants a thing that works exactly like this, there's probably a market for it) and (b) a ready-made market in the shape of his extensive and influential (in tech circles) audience. The latter indeed took hard work to amass, but he's not the one who actually built the CrunchPad.

  • by interval1066 (668936) on Monday November 30, 2009 @03:21PM (#30272994) Homepage Journal

    ...but how much hard work did he actually do on this thing?

    Doesn't matter. The post clearly shows (if accurate) that Arrington owns a piece of the intellectual property that make up the CrunchPad. Its as if a bunch of different people got together to make a pizza chain with one guy coming up with the name, logo, mascot, and business plan, and the other guys deciding to ace that first guy out yet retaining all of that first guy's input. Its a blatant rip-off of Arrington, no matter how much work he did. If you own a piece, you own a piece. That fact isn't up for debate. I bet you'd be pissed off too if this happened to you; even if you spent all the development time sitting on your couch channel surfing.

  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Monday November 30, 2009 @03:24PM (#30273040)
    What's up with all the Chrome on ARM astroturfing around here...? It's quite obvious, guys.
  • by bckspc (172870) on Monday November 30, 2009 @03:50PM (#30273414) Homepage

    I was just going to post something to the same effect. A good friend of mine was pushed out of his company by his partner, board, and angel investors when his invention was close to launch. Another friend turned evil on me when our own start-up company was approached about acquisition. Even though we were 50-50 partners, I still feel like I got shafted. And every slashdot reader knows that Windows is dominant not because of its technical merits, but because of legal -- and illegal -- bullying. Screw or be screwed seems to be the name of the game. Sometimes it seems the only way to win is not to play.

  • by asackett (161377) on Monday November 30, 2009 @04:13PM (#30273862) Homepage

    If I had mod points I'd award a quadrillion of them for:

    I'm guessing you've never started a company. When you do, you'll find out that a fair number of your friends turn into psychopaths when money is involved. This is why the best number of partners in any new venture is 1.

    I've seen this too many times. For anyone who hans't: If you want to know what a partnership is like, here's what you do: Come up with a great idea, then work yourself nearly to death over 18 months to two years while ignoring your family, friends, and health. When the idea has been made tangible and needs just a few minor tweaks, hand over all of your work to someone you'll never want to see again.

  • by lanyslinas (1650491) on Monday November 30, 2009 @08:18PM (#30277534)
    Looks like they just took down the blog. Shady.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:01PM (#30277936) Homepage Journal

    The culture in most B-Schools is really kind of interesting and disgusting. My office is directly adjacent to my institution's business school and I'll sometimes have lunch in their cafeteria, because the food is decent. I suppose that when you're charging a quarter of a million for a degree you are somewhat required to provide edible food. It's hard not to notice that nearly every single student or faculty member there is a tool. I only wish I was making a generality.

    Take the ugliest tendencies of a jock fraternity, add greed, avarice, hair-gel, flop-sweat and downright meanness.

    Ever see the movie Glengarry Glen Ross? Think of the Alec Baldwin character. Now take away the charm and intelligence and give him the patina of higher education and the aroma of Axe body spray. That's the population of a business school.

    I sometimes play in a floating poker game for academics. The only person we've ever had to physically put out was from the B-School. And get this: it was a asst prof from Romance Languages that executed the bum's rush. The ejectee went on to create a retail start-up that made some money, grew fast and went down hard. I've heard that some working stiffs got hurt in the deal, but the major players went on to give "make money at home" seminars and host an infomercial on local AM radio (the kind that try to sound like a real radio talk show). And this is a guy from one of the top-ten US biz schools.

    By comparison, the folks over at the law school are sweethearts.

  • by tlambert (566799) on Monday November 30, 2009 @09:11PM (#30278008)

    Arrington pulled a SourceForge.

            http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/07/21/we-want-a-dead-simple-web-tablet-help-us-build-it/ [techcrunch.com]

    He declared a project, didn't put much in beyond the idea for the project, and then expected people to flock to the project and build it for him. Very much the same way people declare projects on SourceForge, and then expect volunteer programmers to come out of the woodwork and build whatever their pet project happens to be.

    The only difference here is that it involved both hardware and software, and not just software.

    I went to the Internet WayBack Machine and read all of the blogs from Fusion Garage (the actual site is currently down, probably intentionally), and it looks like all of the software was done by them, including the OS, and it looks (from Arrington's blogs) like a lot of the hardware was done by Intel.

    I don't mean to discount the value of vision or publicity, but really, he intended to Open Source everything about the tablet when he declared the project, and I don't really see a lot of value being taken from him in that case, since he wouldn't be building hardware anyway. The only money would be in margin on the hardware if the software was all out there. A lot of people have posted similar specifications for what they'd like to see in a tablet computer, and the only difference between them and Arrington is Arrington has a lot of self-publicity and got a startup to bite on the bait to actually build the thing.

    Arrington might have some arguments with regard to industrial design, but the prototype hardware was not built by him, and the software that made that hardware live and breathe was definitely not his.

    I've worked at combo hardware/software startups, and I've worked at software-only startups (including my own), and universally, the hardware in the hardware/software startups was all about minimal COGS and industrial design (being at Apple now, that's pretty much all there is). The value-add over commodity hardware is that it isn't "cheapest vendor of the part of the day" (so the hardware is reliable and not crap because of constantly retooled assembly lines), and it's the software. When Apple builds a laptop, it doesn't build hardware, and it doesn't build software, it builds systems. The people who don't get that and churn out 1.5%-4% margin crap do so at their peril.

    My reading of things is that Arrington is no Jonathan Ive, and he's no Steve Jobs when it comes to design of hardware or software.

    Fusion Garage may have taken his idea and run with it.. and they want to cut him in on profits from something, the intrinsic value of which he intended to give away for no profit, but they don't seem to be ripping him off to do it, although they do seem to be leveraging as much as they can to get him to accept a minority role with regard to what he brings to the table (which, per the above, by my reckoning, isn't much; sorry, Arrington).

    As more than one V.C. has told me in the past, the point is not the idea; there are millions of good ideas that go unfunded all the time (I'll point at SourceForge again, where "funding" equates to "provision of manpower necessary to complete a project"); what a V.C. funds is the ability to execute on a vision, no matter whose vision it is, and the team behind that ability to execute on the vision and bring a product to market. 1 in 10 entrepreneurs get funded; 1 in 10 of those fail in the first year. That's only a 1 in 100 chance of being around after a year.

    Arrington's failure is no less spectacular than anyone else's in that 99 out of 100 failures, he's just made it more public by ranting about it.

    Ironically, the idea may still not be a failure, merely a failure on his part to control the thing which was built on his (and a lot of other peoples similar) idea, if Fusion Garage or someone else simply continues on and executes on it.

    Good luck in your future endeavors, but don't think that by declaring an idea publically that you've built or created anything.

    -- Terry

  • by arethuza (737069) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:02AM (#30281724)
    Many years ago ('95) when my then startup company was living hand to mouth we were approached by a rather slick character who had Big Plans - he was talking to lots of hardware and infrastructure providers about this huge project and he wanted us to to the software component - because we were Java specialists (not exactly very common back then). We had a lot of meetings - some with major 3-letter hardware vendors and we got rather excited about the whole thing. Turns out he was a dick collecting information for his MBA project - which of course he managed to forgot to mention to anyone. The hardware and telco guys were really quite upset and they were way more experienced than us (not to mention that they actually wore suits to the meetings). Subsequent experience with "really bright" people with MBAs from "top schools" has reinforced a view in me that is entirely consistent with your comment about them generally being a bunch of tools.

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