founder Noah Kraft:
“I’m sorry to have to write you to tell you that Doppler is going out of business,” Kraft wrote. “If you are on this email, it means you are someone who has covered us from the beginning, I can’t thank you enough for your time as we tried to build an in-ear computing platform and give people better access to hearing health solutions.”
You can read more about Doppler’s demise in a Wired article by David Pierce, who got to witness the end firsthand.
Fellow CNET editor Scott Stein and I did cover two-year-old Doppler from the beginning. There was a lot of hype surrounding the company. David Geffen and Henry Kravis were investors. The company raised a total of $50 million, with $24 million of that coming in a Series B round in the summer of 2016 (per the aforementioned Wired article).
In the the fall of 2016, it looked like Doppler would beat Apple to market with the Here One, a set of totally wireless earphones that promised to be smarter than the AirPods. And a few months later — in January of 2017 — CNET’s Brian Tong was blown away by the Here One demo at CES.
Things were looking good, even as product’s launch slipped to the end of February. While the reviews were mostly positive, many noted that the earphones were expensive ($300), had mediocre battery life and were not quite fully baked (additional features were due to be added).
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, Kraft was busy trying to save the company.
Personally, I was somewhat skeptical about the Here One and told Kraft as much when I met with him (multiple times). Sure, the product was interesting, performed pretty well and showed promise. But I didn’t know exactly who it was for. By that I meant that I didn’t know who they were marketing it to. Was it for people with hearing problems or garden-variety digital nomads? The earphones were sweat-resistant, but were they sports headphones? And with all the built-in microphones, were they a business-class headset for making calls?