Sphero cuts jobs and refocuses on education

Holiday sales weren't kind to the connected toy maker.

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Jon Fingas
January 22nd, 2018

Sphero was supposed to have a banner holiday with a slew of toys themed around Star Wars, Cars 3 and Spider-Man on top of its own self-branded creations. However, things turned out very differently. The company has confirmed to TechCrunch that it recently laid off 45 workers and is restructuring around education. Holiday sales weren't terrible, Sphero said, but they weren't "exactly what we had expected" -- the education space is one of those areas that "continues to shine." Most of the layoffs affected Sphero's home in Colorado, although people in Hong Kong and the UK were also affected.

The company hasn't said how much this will affect the roadmap for its toys, although it's difficult to see the firm giving up its lucrative connection to Disney. The education shift is intended to play on Sphero's strong points, as it believes it's at its best when it can "100-percent own" the creation of a product.

This isn't a calamity for Sphero. However, it shows that success is far from certain, even when you combine clever remote control technology with some of the most coveted licenses in the toy world. Education may be a safer bet simply because it's more predictable, and isn't as prone to the whims of gift-givers.

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