Interactive toy-maker Sphero appeared to all the world as though it was in fine shape as the holiday season approached last year. Thanks to licensing deals with Disney and Marvel spawning a range of remote control Star Wars robots and an app-enabled Spider-Man toy, the company's product portfolio burgeoned in 2017. The more affordable Sphero Mini came out towards the end of the year but apparently wasn't enough to ensure decent holiday sales numbers. As a result, staff cuts have been made and Sphero will release products at a slower rate in 2018.
Warning signs may well have been there for a while. Richard reviewed the impressive looking Lightning McQueen remote control car last summer but didn't think it was worth the hefty $300 price tag. A toy costing that amount of money really has to wow if it's going to make sales, and when a company of Sphero's size is still growing it likely can't afford to have too many failures.
A total of 45 staff members have been laid off in various locations including the UK and Hong Kong, but the Sphero headquarters in Colorado have been hit the hardest. Speaking to TechCrunch, a company spokesperson confirmed that the cuts were due to lower than expected holiday sales and a scaled-back product development schedule for 2018. Sphero hopes to concentrate its efforts on education products such as its SPRK+ robots, which are developed entirely independently, and the spokesperson added: “Where we do well are those experiences we can 100-percent own, from inception to go-to-market.”