Humane, a secretive and highly valued startup, launched its first product in March: a screenless AI pin, priced at $699, that claims to be able to replace the smartphone. However, before announcing the AI Pin in November and taking pre-orders, the company had to cut 4% of its staff, equivalent to 10 people, to save costs for those affected by the budget tightening this year, according to sources close to the matter.
The layoffs come as Humane prepares to ship its first device, the AI Pin plus a $24 per month subscription fee. The AI Pin is a screenless, AI-powered pin that can be worn on clothing and can perform various tasks using voice commands and a laser display that can be projected onto the user’s hand. The device uses AI models, including OpenAI’s GPT-4, to handle natural language processing, translation, reminders, photos, and more.
This company was founded in 2019 by two former Apple employees, Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhri, and has attracted the attention of many prominent investors in Silicon Valley, including OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. The company has raised more than $200 million in funding.
Bongiorno, Humane’s CEO, posted on LinkedIn to explain that the layoffs were “part of a wider refresh of our organizational structure as our company evolves with purpose for this next phase of growth”. She also announced that Patrick Gates, co-founder and CTO, “will also be transitioning to an advisor in order to spend more time with his family.”. She also said that the company had appointed new heads of hardware, software and people as part of the restructuring process.
Humane’s CEO confirmed to us via text message that those affected “not communicated as a layoff”, although other sources said they were notified of this - both verbally and in writing. She said: “It goes without saying that, like every company, we have a responsibility to remain prudent and proactive, ensuring we have the right roles, right people, and the right structure at every juncture”.