Revisiting The Kreyos Debacle [UPDATED: Statement]

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Written by Arron Hirst

Without getting into any legal wrangles, as I have nor the time nor the patience to dedicate to fighting a legal battle over a $115 watch, I wanted to highlight an article posted to Medium that has squarely captured my attention this morning.

It involves the quote “world class” team at a company called Kreyos. You may remember I laid down some of what I’d gone through since putting my money behind them on Indiegogoover a year ago, here.

Since then, however, it has come to my attention that the company may be misleading its backers about its promise to deliver – a potentially sticky situation to be in, especially: If you’re a backer that is still awaiting the delivery of your Kreyos Meteor smartwatch.

The following information is still in question. I am simply highlighting a suspected case of fraudulent activity which involves the Indiegogo platform. The information should initially act as a warning shot to those thinking about crowd-funding, and -until proven- should not be taken as fact.

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When the campaign for the Kreyos Meteor began in the Summer of last year, tech publications around the globe – including the big-name news organizations, such as CNN and VentureBeat, sold it to the masses. They all picked up on the campaign organisers’ original claim that the Kreyos Meteor was the world’s first watch to feature “voice [and] gesture control,” and played on the fact that it appeared to bring the “Star Trek” era to life.

The watch literally became a sensation – before it was even a product. This is called crowd-funding. The process of physically pledging – with real money – towards an idea that is not yet fully formed, and eventually having the pleasure to see that same idea become a reality.

It was around April of this year, I became increasingly concerned about my pledging towards the Kreyos Meteor. The company appeared to be delaying shipment for countless reasons. Speaker issues, software issues, dock strikes, the list went on …

I’ve been involved in many crowd-funded projects over the last two-years: Pebble and the Swatchmate Cube, to name just two.

I know how it works.

I knew the risks involved.

But, if what I am about to highlight has any truth to it, it may threaten the very idea of the Indiegogo and Kickstarter platforms – and your involvement in the potential backing of projects that arise looking for funding on both platforms, going forward.

According to the Kreyos Meteor campaign page, 11,723 people pledged towards the idea of the Meteor smartwatch – based on the company’s own claims that the watch would arrive as being able to perform as advertised.

13 months later – the watches have begun arriving on the doorsteps of backers. That’s not the issue. The issue arrives when you consider the overall quality of the final (shipping?) product Kreyos is now advertising for sale on its website – coupled with the new information, below.

In the words of Jonathan Barronville, “with little surprise, it turns out that the “Pebble-killer” (LOL) they promised is equivalent to a $20 Family Dollar-branded watch I saw at Family Dollar some months ago.”

Barronville isn’t alone in his assumptions about the firm.

Having not yet received my Kreyos Meteor, (personally), I can’t vouch for the claims over its lack of functionality. What I can highlight, though, is a video review that has been published by one backer who has been luckily enough to already receive the watch, (and those comments left by those who have received the product, on Facebook), and – based on those – I can come to the conclusion that this is far from the watch I originally backed, nor is it the watch that Kreyos showed-off in its “dick tracy”-style promo video, over a year ago.

Up until last Friday, I’ll be honest – I was holding out for the Meteor to land on my doorstep, next week. As I noted in my detailing of the pledging process (thus far), the company has assured me that my tracking number for the product will arrive “in the next couple of days.”

(They told me that a week ago, too).

Now, however, I am less certain of ever actually seeing the Kreyos Meteor.

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Why, you ask? – Well, if these photos – reportedly dug up on Facebook – are anything to go by, it would appear (at least, initially) that the company may not be telling the entire truth to its backers.

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Tan – the reported co-founder of Kreyos, (according to CNN), allegedly removed all trace of his connection to Kreyos from his (suspected) personal Facebook profile, shortly after the discovery and publishing of the photos.

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Kreyos is yet to make an official statement on the findings. Other than to attempt to convince seemingly equally-concerned backers that it “[doesn't] intend to runaway with [their] money.”

In addition, because of the apparent secrecy the company is deploying over wanting to keep the true identity of its management structure firmly behind closed doors, it is currently unclear if the photos actually feature the company’s co-founder, Steve Tan.

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For what it’s worth, I was able to dig up the company’s ‘brand identity’ guidelines. The presentation was originally posted by Michael Joseph Villar, who is named as then “VP of Marketing at Kreyos.” He also has a public Twitter account, which still appears to be active.

Whether I receive the Kreyos Meteor, or not – let the above be a lesson to you all.

I’m so done with crowd-funding.

You can read the full (alleged) expose on Kreyos’s co-founders, here. We’ll definitely be letting you know if we get a response from Kreyos regarding the above allegations, in the interim.

The revelations are already trending on Reddit.

Update

Following the bad publicity, Steve – co-founder of Kreyos – has responded to the allegations above, citing that he “never used a single cent of the money” for his personal use or gain.

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His full statement follows.

Hi guys,

This is Steve from Kreyos. Things are getting out of hand right now, and I’m sure my reputation sucks because of it. I know there’s been word going around and I’d like to clarify that I never used a single cent of the money I crowdfunded from Indiegogo for my personal use or gain. From the start of the company up until now, I haven’t received a single pay check to my name; this is because the company can make better use of the money at this point in time.

FYI, I do not own a Ferrari. The Ferrari and shopping images below were taken way back in 2010 (before I even started Kreyos) on a holiday trip in Italy with my friends. I’m really sorry if the photos that have been circulating were misconstrued. Unless I can take the money and teleport back four years ago, suggesting that I am using the money to buy myself a Ferrari is simply stupid.

Currently, I am writing a very detailed post of what went from the start of the project up until our current situation. This includes details includes how the money was spent and where it was spent. I’ll post this hopefully at the end of next week.

In the meantime, the team is currently doing all they can in handling your requests, fixing bugs, and processing hardware replacements. It’s a tough time for all of us, but we are doing our best to fix these problems. Please keep my employees, and ex-employees, out of this; I will take full responsibility for these problems.

Sincerely,

Steve




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About the author

Arron Hirst

Arron has been writing about Apple, Inc, professionally, since 2008. When he's not breaking news about Fortune 100 companies, his interests include Music, Design, Movies, Marketing, and Breaking Bad.


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