Essential Phone maker cuts jobs as it sharpens its focus

The phone startup founded by the creator of Android has been struggling to find its way.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou

Android creator Andy Rubin launches the Essential phone May 30, 2017.

Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Struggling smartphone maker Essential has made a sizable cut to its staff.

The phone startup founded by Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, had experienced a few setbacks. In May, it canceled the Essential Phone 2. The company had reportedly spent over $100 million developing its first set of products, of which only the original phone and its 360-degree modular camera attachment shipped. Rubin was also reportedly considering selling the company.

It was reported last week that Essential might be working on a phone that uses artificial intelligence to mimic the user and automatically respond to messages on the user's behalf.

The company says it still sees a way forward, despite the difficulties.

"We are very sorry for the impact on our colleagues who are leaving the company," said an Essential spokesperson in an email statement. "We are confident that our sharpened product focus will help us deliver a truly game changing consumer product."

The job cuts amount to about 30 percent of Essential's staff, according to Bloomberg, which earlier reported on the layoffs. Many working in the company's hardware and sales divisions were reportedly affected.