Plastc is throwing in the towel today. The smart card maker sent a message to backers (which now also graces the startup’s homepage) announcing that it’s “exploring options” for filing Chapter 7 and, more importantly, is shutting down all operations as of today.
The company was apparently on the most shoestring of budgets, holding out hope that it would be able to stay open as late as this week, courtesy of a planned $6.75 million in funding. The letter reads like the climactic scene in a movie about a tech startup, with the funding round just “a signature away from closing.” This one’s got a pretty bummer of an ending, though.
Word that the investor was backing out apparently only came down yesterday, leaving the company “extremely caught off guard.” Complicating things is the apparent fact that the company had another key round of funding ($3.5 million) fall through at the tail end of February.
Meantime, existing investors kept the company afloat, but it takes a lot more than keeping-afloat-money to actually get a product into production. As such, this news also means the company won’t be fulfilling any of its pre-orders, a fact that has, unsurprisingly, pissed off supporters, who have already taken to Facebook in hopes of getting their money back.
We’ve reached out to CEO Ryan Marquis for comment, but I’m not really getting my hopes up. The company is basically ghosting the internet, save for the aforementioned note. Its Twitter page looks to have been taken down.
On its face, this is a story about a startup that failed to secure its latest round of funding, and couldn’t produce a product after a year and a half and a reported $9 million worth of pre-order backing. It’s a startup cautionary tale and also another indictment of the smart card space.
Coin was a success story of sorts in that it was acquired by Fitbit last year, shutting down all services in early 2017 — though that tech was purchased to power a future smartwatch, divorcing it from a standalone card. Swyp has been plagued by all manner of delays, while Stratos has been a big mess for a while, finally selling its platform to Danish company CardLab in January.
There’s clearly been interest in the space over the last few years, but certainly not enough to launch a truly successful platform here in the States. And certainly the usefulness of the technology has been immensely downgraded with the surge of payment solutions from hardware and software companies, from Apple to Facebook.
This might not be the official end of the smart card dream, as a few are still alive and kicking, but there doesn’t seem to be a hell of a lot of life left.