There are starting to be rumors — most prominently picked up by TechCrunch — that Pebble is having some problems. Despite a phenomenally successful $20 million Kickstarter round for its upcoming Pebble Time smartwatch, TechCrunch is citing “sources close to the company” as saying attempts to raise venture money are not going well, and that the company took out a $5 million loan and $5 million line of credit.
Loans are not uncommon to make sure a company has enough operating revenue while shopping for equity partners. Pebble, despite taking in all those Kickstarter millions, is probably having to front some serious money to the people actually building its products, so it wouldn’t be surprising if its bank account was looking a little stressed right now.
But despite those headwinds, and the unavoidable impact of the Apple Watch, Pebble is in a position that most vendors would kill for. We had a conversation about Pebble last week with Scott Wallace, of the Retail Group, a highly experienced veteran of the consumer electronics retail business. We speculated that Pebble’s Kickstarter success with Pebble Time would have ticked off the retail channel, since it sucked so much money away from stores. Not so, Wallace said; the campaign was a huge validation of Pebble, which has already established itself as a reliable brand at retail. Stores, Wallace told us, are eagerly awaiting the new product, based precisely on the crowdfunding .
Pebble is in an undeniably challenging competitive environment, and transitions to new product lines are always tricky. But we’re not seeing any evidence other than whispers that Pebble is in any extraordinary trouble.