Pearl, the startup that wanted to make your dumb car smart, shuts down

Pearl Automation was on a mission to help the parallel-parking challenged — protecting rear bumpers around the country by equipping every car, even the oldest models, with a backup camera.

Instead, Pearl ran out of money and shut down this week, giving a win to all those pesky poles, mailboxes and other cars that seem to jump up so unexpectedly just as you’re backing up.

Axios first reported that the company had gone belly up. The issue was a lack of funds, The New York Times reported. “We were probably two years ahead of our time,” co-founder and CEO Bryson Gardner told The Times.

Pearl did not immediately respond to a request for comment from SiliconBeat.

The Scotts Valley-based company, founded by former Apple employees, had raised $50 million, according to Crunchbase.

Pearl’s RearVision camera ($499.99) installs around your license plate. The camera wirelessly connects to your phone, which live streams the footage in real-time from a mount on your dashboard, turning your phone into a backup camera.

The cameras were listed as “out of stock” on Pearl’s website Tuesday.

American Road Products will take over support of Pearl’s backup camera for existing customers, The Times reported.

Pearl wasn’t the only startup working on tools that let drivers retrofit their old cars with cameras and other high-tech devices. Palo Alto-based Nauto, which markets to operators of fleets of commercial vehicles, sells a dashcam intended to help drivers avoid collisions.

Photo: Screen shot from Pearl Automation’s website. (Pearl)


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