OnePlus co-founder's Nothing startup buys Essential smartphone brand

The Nothing logo on a mysterious device

Nothing, the mysterious startup created by OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, has acquired Essential, the failed smartphone brand launched by Android creator Andy Rubin.

The acquisition was completed on 6 January 2021, according to filings from the UK Intellectual Property Office.

The deal, which includes logos, trademarks and all other brandings from Essential, appears to have been made before any details of Pei's new project have been revealed. As such, it isn't clear what Nothing will do with the once-defunct smartphone brand.

Nothing is a London-based startup that is committed to bringing back "artistry, passion and trust" to the consumer technology space. Details about what form its products and services will take are currently sketchy, with Pei vaguely confirming that a 'smart device' will be launched 'soon' and that different kinds of devices will follow.

The firm has already raised $15 million from a number of investors including iPod inventor Tony Fadell, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, but these high profile names provide little insight into the future of Nothing.


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The Nothing website initially sported a countdown to 16 February, but all that was revealed was a vague video about scaling technology back so that it was no longer in the way of life. Whether that indicates a small and unobtrusive device isn't very clear, but Pei feels that is enough to entice more investors.

"We want you to create that future together with us," the company's website states. "Not just cheering from the sidelines, but front and centre from the very start. That's why we're inviting you to invest through this community funding round and become a shareholder of Nothing at the same price as our first institutional round of financing, Series A, led by GV (formally known as Google Ventures). $1.5 million worth of shares will be available to you on a first-come, first-serve basis."

It's unlikely the company's acquisition of Essential will lead to huge investor interest, however. The company was founded after Rubin had left Google and it only produced one handset - the Essential Phone - which ran on a new operating system called 'Ambient OS' and failed make a dent on the market.

The firm was shut down in 2018 after poor sales. Around the same time, reports began to surface about Rubin leaving Google due to sexual harassment claims.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognise him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.