There was a time when anyone with a dream and an Internet connection could submit their idea for a device to Quirky on a wing and a prayer. The community voted on these products, and the most popular were evaluated by Quirky. Some ideas — half-baked though they were — actually made it onto shelves or were sold on Amazon. Take the much-maligned Egg Minder: “I don’t have a mobile phone, but the lid is transparent. So now I know exactly how many eggs I have without having to open the egg box. Simply stunning.” The idea-haver got a cut of the profits and didn’t have to worry about actually manufacturing anything. Sometimes the system worked, like with the flexible power strip Pivot Power.
Earlier this year, Quirky started making some changes to its community-developed ideas, and now the company won’t be building any products at all, according to Fortune. Instead, its partners, such as GE and Mattel, will handle the development, manufacturing, and distribution of potential products. Quirky will focus on design and distribution, instead.
This also means changes for Wink, the smart home devices maker. “There’s a point where it doesn’t make sense for one unprofitable startup to keep funding another unprofitable startup,” Quirky CEO Ben Kaufman told Fortune. In February, Quirky started looking for a new outside investor or buyer for Wink. April’s widespread Wink hub malfunctions put a kink in the plan, though the smart home company is getting some outside funding.
Quirky’s Poppy line, which incorporate Amazon’s Dash technology into the hardware — so your coffee maker automatically reorders you beans when your supply gets low, for example — seems to still be on track to launch this year. The fate of specific Poppy products wasn’t announced, so we can only hope the connected wine rack that keeps you flush with vino is still on the table.