“Now that everybody is looking at it with a fishy eye, they really need to demonstrate,” said Lidow. “If they can shut up the naysayers, they’ll get all the money they’ll need.”
UBeam has raised cash from a variety of big names, including Menlo Park’s Andreesen Horowitz, Upfront Ventures, and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. UBeam also counts celebrity billionaire Mark Cuban, Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Marissa Mayer, actor Will Smith and DJ Calvin Harris among its investors.
However, the firm’s most recent $2.6 million round in July was facilitated by Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd and did not include money from institutional venture capital firms. OurCrowd declined to be to be interviewed.
Suster, who declined to comment for this story, acknowledged on his blog that for uBeam to succeed it will need to show the world a marketable product. The company previously said it would launch a product by the end of 2015 and begin production on millions of units this year. The firm is behind schedule, according to Suster, but has plans for four generations of products through 2019.
With its emphasis still on R&D rather than sales, additional funding will be essential for the long difficult road ahead, including a showdown with established-industry rivals such as magnetic-resonance company WiTricity Corp. of Watertown. Mass., said Lidow. Another rival is San Jose’s Energous Corp.
“They have to also prove that can enable a receiver unit that is phenomenally cheap, pretty foolproof, and tiny because it has to fit into an internet-of-things device or cellphone,” he said. “That’s a big hurdle and it’s already a crowded space.”
Future financing rounds could be painful, said Craig Everett, professor of finance at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management.
“The valuation of the company will clearly take a big hit due to the missed deadlines,” he said. “It will likely be a down round.”
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