Hours after unveiling its latest app, Seattle startup A.R.O. Inc. announced a “substantial restructuring of its workforce” today — ceasing standalone operations and making what a spokesperson described as a “100% reduction in force.”
An unspecified number of A.R.O’s employees have been hired by Paul Allen’s company Vulcan, which was A.R.O.’s partner and primary investor. Those who do make the jump to Vulcan will continue to maintain A.R.O.’s products, including apps that use sensors to provide “contextual intelligence” for users.
“The technologies we developed at A.R.O will also live on,” said A.R.O. CEO Andy Hickl in the post announcing the restructuring. “We have been very encouraged to date with our enterprise collaborations, and I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if A.R.O. technology powers the next great mobile experience.”
The company says those products, including the newly announced Brightly, will continue to be supported and available for users.
“A.R.O. didn’t reach critical mass in market saturation quickly enough to defend the rising costs of continued operations,” an ARO spokesman told GeekWire in an email. “Being first to market doesn’t always make you an incumbent, ensure success, or give you an advantage. In our case, we learned this lesson the long way.”
The company is probably best known among consumers for its mobile apps, including Saga, which creates a timeline of users’ life events based on their activity during the day; and OverHeard, which makes it easy for users to share snippets of recorded audio with their friends.
In an interesting turn of events, the company released a new app named Brightly this morning. It’s designed to monitor and provide users feedback about their exposure to the sun.
“Brightly was very near and dear to the A.R.O. team and they wanted to give it to the world before restructuring,” the spokesperson said. “Brightly also represents a sign of good faith that A.R.O.’s apps will continue after the restructuring.”
The company says it will continue to license its core technologies to mobile developers and manufacturers after this restructuring, and will continue to support those products going forward.