Meet Pleo. He’s going to crush Furby

robot_revenge.03.jpgPicture the scene: It’s the holiday buying season, and ever since summer, consumers have been itching to get their hands on a 6-inch-tall robot with a quirky personality that evolves as its owners interact with it.

The creature goes on to sell 50 million units, earning a stunning $1.2 billion.

That all happened in 1998, with a toy called Furby. But if its co-creator Caleb Chung has his way, a similar story will unfold this year. After many delays, Chung’s sequel to Furby — a robotic dinosaur called Pleo — is scheduled to go on sale this summer. This time, however, the company waiting to reap the rewards is not toy giant Hasbro. It’s Chung’s 35-person startup, Ugobe.

Chung has spent two years sweating Pleo’s details. He’s gone through four versions of the polymer skin. He’s tweaked the tail until it can wag with the same torque as the neck. He replaced metal gears with plastic ones halfway through the manufacturing process so Pleo would move more quietly.

The delays were worth it, Chung insists. “If we were Mattel, we would have shipped this last Christmas,” he says. “But that’s not how you start a world-changing company.” Ugobe, financed to the tune of $11 million, is raising another $10 million to develop the half-dozen designs Chung has up his sleeve, including robots that could crawl the earth long after Pleo has gone extinct.

Source:  CNN Money


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