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​Ex-Android boss Andy Rubin launches hardware startup accelerator

Following his recent departure from Google, Andy Rubin's next project will be to nurture new hardware startups by shouldering some of their operational burdens.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

After leaving Google last year, Android co-founder and former Google robotics chief Andy Rubin has raised $48m for a new hardware incubator.

The California-based company, called Playground Global, will use the investment to nurture startups that make hardware for consumers or companies.

Rubin's Playground won't be rivalling venture capital firms by making investments in startups but rather, according to the Wall Street Journal, will take equity stakes in exchange for support with areas such as distribution, manufacturing, financing, and integration with cloud services - essentially many of the business aspects that could bog down inventors in the early stages of product development.

"Our aim is to free the creators to create. By bringing these partners to the table we can remove many of the roadblocks of bringing a great idea to market," he told the WSJ.

Playground Global's backers include Google, HP, Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn, Redpoint Ventures, Tencent, and Seagate, according to the report.

Rubin told the WSJ that investors were selected for their strategic value to startups: Foxconn for example will help Playground startups devices at scale, while HP will help the companies distribute their products globally. Meanwhile, Google, Tencent, and Seagate will be cloud partners, while Redpoint will offer advice on financing and may also invest in the companies.

According to the report, Rubin has also taken a role as a partner at Redpoint Ventures, which also became Playground's first investor. Rubin will assist the VC firm to vet potential mobile investments concurrently to his role leading the new incubator.

Rubin headed up Android for several years at Google before being replaced by current Android head Sundar Pichai. He subsequently moved on to lead Google's robotics investments which included the acquisitions of a number of firms, most notably Boston Dynamics, the maker of the four-legged rough-terrain robot BigDog.

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