PebblePebble, the buzzy startup credited for being one of the first companies to launch a modern smartwatch, is laying off 40 employees this week, CEO Eric Migicovsky told Tech Insider in an interview. That's about 25% of its total staff.
Migicovsky also said the company has raised $26 million over the last eight months on top of its $20 million Kickstarter campaign that started in February 2015. He wouldn't disclose the investors, but did say Pebble has raised a mix of debt and venture capital from private investors.
Migicovsky blamed a chilly fundraising environment in Silicon Valley for the layoffs.
"We've definitely been careful this year as we plan our products," Migicovsky said. "We got this money, but money [among VCs in Silicon Valley] is pretty tight these days."
Moving forward, Migicovsky said he wants Pebble to focus on the health and fitness aspects of the company's wearables, which he says most users are interested in. The company will also start selling its products in India next month through a partnership with Amazon.
The Pebble layoffs come at a shaky time for the wearable technology market. FitBit, the leader in the wearable category, has seen its stock fall dramatically in recent months. Apple dropped the price of the Apple Watch by $50 to $299 on Monday, a sign that it's not selling as well as hoped.
"We want to be careful," Migicovsky said. "Pebble is in this for the long haul. We have a vision where wearables will take us in five to 10 years, and this is setting us up for success."
Antonio Villas-Boas/Tech Insider
Migicovsky wouldn't disclose sales figures for Pebble. The last time the company announced sales was in February 2015 when it said it had sold 1 million smartwatches since 2013.
By contrast, estimates for Apple Watch sales are all over the place — Apple has never disclosed sales figures — but even the most conservative analysts think Apple sold about 10 million units in 2015. (The Apple Watch isn't even a year old yet.)
Pebble targets the lower end of the smartwatch market. Its watches start at $100 and go up to $250.
Smartwatches were once considered to be the "next big thing" in consumer technology, but so far no one has created a must-have gadget in the category. They're nice to own, but still not as capable or essential as a smartphone.