Andy Rubin's Essential startup raised $300 million in a recently concluded series B funding round, with investors valuing the Palo Alto, California-based company at almost $1 billion, according to a recent analysis conducted by Equidate. With a value of $993 million, Essential is seen as one of the biggest prospects in the Silicon Valley, latest reports indicate. The second funding round that the company went through was concluded in May, shortly before the startup unveiled the Essential PH-1, its first Android handset designed to challenge the current status quo in the smartphone industry. The new resources secured by Essential are expected to be used for wrapping up its product development and launching the Essential PH-1 and Essential Home, an Internet-enabled speaker with a large focus on privacy.
Rubin's incubator Playground Global initially helped Essential raise $30 million in 2014, shortly after one of the original creators of Android left Google and went on to start his next business. While none of the investors in the company have been disclosed to date, some industry watchers believe that Playground Global is still largely in control of Essential due to the fact that the latest financing round led to the creation of a new stock class with more voting rights. While investors are generally discouraged when tech startups are offering unequal voting rights — which is something that reportedly hurt Snap's initial public offering (IPO) earlier this year — Rubin's track record likely proved to be a sufficient assurance for individuals, companies, and funds that ultimately decided to put their resources into Essential.
The latest round of funding that helped Essential raise more resources was likely meant to replace a failed investment from SoftBank Group's $100 billion tech fund that fell through due to the Japanese company's ties with Apple and the fact that the Cupertino, California-based phone maker had its own stake in the fund. Essential likely won't be looking to raise additional resources before it commercializes its first two products, both of which are meant to mark the beginning of a new ecosystem centered around privacy and personal choice, according to previous comments made by the company's representatives. An update on Essential's business endeavors is expected to follow in the coming weeks.