A week after reducing the base price of its Focals smartglasses by nearly 50 percent, wearables maker North is now reducing its workforce.
"Over the past several years, we grew quickly to bring Focals to market. In the lead up to their launch, we made big bets across R&D, manufacturing, retail and more. Those risks were the right choices at the time, and helped us create a product that set a new bar in our category of everyday smartglasses," said Stephen Lake, CEO of North, in a statement emailed to Next Reality. "In order to succeed long-term, we're faced with some tough decisions. We've decided to lay off a number of employees yesterday in order to focus our resources and ensure we have sufficient runway to execute on our upcoming milestones over the next 18-24 months. This is a difficult decision, but a necessary one for us to make to ensure long-term success."
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Because Focals require a custom fitting, sales are limited to its retail locations — the first being brick-and-retail showrooms in New York and Toronto. The company has expanded its retail reach somewhat with a series of pop-up shops, starting with Seattle this week and continuing on to San Francisco and parts unknown from there. According to a company spokesperson, the layoffs will not derail North's showroom tour.
"I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped us get to where we are, and our team will be doing everything they can to make sure any affected colleagues land on their feet," said Lake. "As for what's next - we're proud to be headquartered and manufacturing in Kitchener-Waterloo and will continue to make it our home. We still plan to grow and build here over time."
After racing out of the gate with the first pair of stylish smartglasses for consumers to hit the market, North has stumbled in recent weeks. While the company stated the price cut was to bring the product more in line with consumer expectations for eyewear, that also sounds like sales were slow, a theory that gains strength via the reduction of jobs.
A couple of bumps and bruises does not necessarily spell doom for North, but they do take a bit of the luster off of its promising start.