Enterprise

Stir, A Kinetic Desk Startup From An Ex-Apple Engineer, Raises $1.5M Led By Tony Hsieh’s Vegas TechFund

Comment

As the world continues to see more and more everyday objects become “hardware” controlled through operating systems and internet connectivity, an ex-Apple engineer called JP Labrosse is hoping to take that principle and combine it with elegant design to transform the prosaic world of office desks.

His company, Stir, is today announcing a seed round of $1.5 million as it begins to roll out its first product, the Stir Kinetic Desk, in earnest. The round was led by Zappos’ founder and CEO Tony Hsieh’s Vegas TechFund and its MD Zach Ware, with participation also from biomedical entrepreneur Josh Makower, John R. Woodard, Richard Klein and several Apple alumni.

Just as Labrosse is not your ordinary founder — before and after his stint as a lead engineer on the iPod at Apple, he started many other companies, and has seen more than one exit — the Stir is not your ordinary work table.

You can use the Stir both as a standing and sitting desk, and it has a special engine built in to adjust its height as it “learns” more about you and decides what the best regime would be for you. The desk tracks how you burn calories and the time spent sitting and standing, and creates what Labrosse describes as “magical moments to change things up” between the two.

Part of the desk’s built-in program is something called Active Mode, in which a button on the front of the desk “invites the user to change position at certain times.”

These are minor adjustments of no more than one inch — the movement is called “Whisperbreath” by the company — and the idea being here that, similar to the Butterfly Effect in chaos theory, these small adjustments, over time, have a large effect on your posture and overall fitness.

Its built-in touchscreen lets users also adjust the desk height manually if you’re not quite ready for your desk to start telling you when to stand up and sit down.

With all the ports you might want for the devices that would sit on top of it, and integrated bluetooth and WiFi, it’s sleek and beautiful as well as functional.

(When I saw the desk for the first time alongside a friend, she remarked on how it could nearly double as a dining table if your place is space-constrained and you work from home.)

config_02_ultramarine_lgLabrosse sees the Stir as part of a longer continuum of the new wave of physical products that can help us live our lives better, “not just data for the sake of it but data that provides value.”

Think here about wristbands that monitor your activity and then report the findings back to apps that can use that data to suggest how many calories you’ve burned, and so on.

“We are focused on this notion of finding ways that technology can really support you without you having to actively manage it,” Labrosse says. This will be the key to mass adoption of products like these, he believes.

The Stir is off to a good business start so far. After a rush of positive reviews from both the worlds of tech and furniture, it sold out its first run at a price of $4,000 per desk, with customers including both individuals as well as enterprises, Labrosse says.

Among the latter group, he tells me that there are Fortune 100 companies piloting the desks, with the idea being that they are working out how the desks could “serve their specific needs and configurations.”

And although Labrosse would not confirm it, you can imagine that Hsieh and his position in Vegas both as the head of Zappos and also as a backer of a number of businesses in the city might also play a role in providing a channel for getting these desks into use.

“Stir is one of those unique investment opportunities where the right team comes together at just the right time to lead a sea-change in a historically slow moving market,” said Jen McCabe, who leads the Nimbus hardware portfolio of the Vegas Tech Fund.

“There is sea change happening and we have surfed to the right place,” is how Labrosse puts it.

Going forward, the new funding will be used to expand production, work on distribution (deals in the pipeline for retailers but nothing to announce yet, Labrosse says) and start to look into more ways of developing the Stir desk’s functionality. Key to the last of these will be how the Stir interacts with more devices like wearables and more and basically hands off data from one device when you arrive at your desk, and then back again as you leave it.

Whether this will involve further hardware is not clear yet, but I hope it will do. I have thing or two I’d like to tell my filing cabinet, if only it would listen to me.

More TechCrunch

When the founders of Sagetap, Sahil Khanna and Kevin Hughes, started working at early-stage enterprise software startups, they were surprised to find that the companies they worked at were trying…

Deal Dive: Sagetap looks to bring enterprise software sales into the 21st century

Keeping up with an industry as fast-moving as AI is a tall order. So until an AI can do it for you, here’s a handy roundup of recent stories in the world…

This Week in AI: OpenAI moves away from safety

After Apple loosened its App Store guidelines to permit game emulators, the retro game emulator Delta — an app 10 years in the making — hit the top of the…

Adobe comes after indie game emulator Delta for copying its logo

Meta is once again taking on its competitors by developing a feature that borrows concepts from others — in this case, BeReal and Snapchat. The company is developing a feature…

Meta’s latest experiment borrows from BeReal’s and Snapchat’s core ideas

Welcome to Startups Weekly! We’ve been drowning in AI news this week, with Google’s I/O setting the pace. And Elon Musk rages against the machine.

Startups Weekly: It’s the dawning of the age of AI — plus,  Musk is raging against the machine

IndieBio’s Bay Area incubator is about to debut its 15th cohort of biotech startups. We took special note of a few, which were making some major, bordering on ludicrous, claims…

IndieBio’s SF incubator lineup is making some wild biotech promises

YouTube TV has announced that its multiview feature for watching four streams at once is now available on Android phones and tablets. The Android launch comes two months after YouTube…

YouTube TV’s ‘multiview’ feature is now available on Android phones and tablets

Featured Article

Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

CSC ServiceWorks provides laundry machines to thousands of residential homes and universities, but the company ignored requests to fix a security bug.

23 hours ago
Two Santa Cruz students uncover security bug that could let millions do their laundry for free

OpenAI’s Superalignment team, responsible for developing ways to govern and steer “superintelligent” AI systems, was promised 20% of the company’s compute resources, according to a person from that team. But…

OpenAI created a team to control ‘superintelligent’ AI — then let it wither, source says

TechCrunch Disrupt 2024 is just around the corner, and the buzz is palpable. But what if we told you there’s a chance for you to not just attend, but also…

Harness the TechCrunch Effect: Host a Side Event at Disrupt 2024

Decks are all about telling a compelling story and Goodcarbon does a good job on that front. But there’s important information missing too.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Goodcarbon’s $5.5M seed deck

Slack is making it difficult for its customers if they want the company to stop using its data for model training.

Slack under attack over sneaky AI training policy

A Texas-based company that provides health insurance and benefit plans disclosed a data breach affecting almost 2.5 million people, some of whom had their Social Security number stolen. WebTPA said…

Healthcare company WebTPA discloses breach affecting 2.5 million people

Featured Article

Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Microsoft won’t be facing antitrust scrutiny in the U.K. over its recent investment into French AI startup Mistral AI.

1 day ago
Microsoft dodges UK antitrust scrutiny over its Mistral AI stake

Ember has partnered with HSBC in the U.K. so that the bank’s business customers can access Ember’s services from their online accounts.

Embedded finance is still trendy as accounting automation startup Ember partners with HSBC UK

Kudos uses AI to figure out consumer spending habits so it can then provide more personalized financial advice, like maximizing rewards and utilizing credit effectively.

Kudos lands $10M for an AI smart wallet that picks the best credit card for purchases

The EU’s warning comes after Microsoft failed to respond to a legally binding request for information that focused on its generative AI tools.

EU warns Microsoft it could be fined billions over missing GenAI risk info

The prospects for troubled banking-as-a-service startup Synapse have gone from bad to worse this week after a United States Trustee filed an emergency motion on Wednesday.  The trustee is asking…

A US Trustee wants troubled fintech Synapse to be liquidated via Chapter 7 bankruptcy, cites ‘gross mismanagement’

U.K.-based Seraphim Space is spinning up its 13th accelerator program, with nine participating companies working on a range of tech from propulsion to in-space manufacturing and space situational awareness. The…

Seraphim’s latest space accelerator welcomes nine companies

OpenAI has reached a deal with Reddit to use the social news site’s data for training AI models. In a blog post on OpenAI’s press relations site, the company said…

OpenAI inks deal to train AI on Reddit data

X users will now be able to discover posts from new Communities that are trending directly from an Explore tab within the section.

X pushes more users to Communities

For Mark Zuckerberg’s 40th birthday, his wife got him a photoshoot. Zuckerberg gives the camera a sly smile as he sits amid a carefully crafted re-creation of his childhood bedroom.…

Mark Zuckerberg’s makeover: Midlife crisis or carefully crafted rebrand?

Strava announced a slew of features, including AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, a new ‘family’ subscription plan, dark mode and more.

Strava taps AI to weed out leaderboard cheats, unveils ‘family’ plan, dark mode and more

We all fall down sometimes. Astronauts are no exception. You need to be in peak physical condition for space travel, but bulky space suits and lower gravity levels can be…

Astronauts fall over. Robotic limbs can help them back up.

Microsoft will launch its custom Cobalt 100 chips to customers as a public preview at its Build conference next week, TechCrunch has learned. In an analyst briefing ahead of Build,…

Microsoft’s custom Cobalt chips will come to Azure next week

What a wild week for transportation news! It was a smorgasbord of news that seemed to touch every sector and theme in transportation.

Tesla keeps cutting jobs and the feds probe Waymo

Sony Music Group has sent letters to more than 700 tech companies and music streaming services to warn them not to use its music to train AI without explicit permission.…

Sony Music warns tech companies over ‘unauthorized’ use of its content to train AI

Winston Chi, Butter’s founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that “most parties, including our investors and us, are making money” from the exit.

GrubMarket buys Butter to give its food distribution tech an AI boost

The investor lawsuit is related to Bolt securing a $30 million personal loan to Ryan Breslow, which was later defaulted on.

Bolt founder Ryan Breslow wants to settle an investor lawsuit by returning $37 million worth of shares

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, launched an enterprise version of the prominent social network in 2015. It always seemed like a stretch for a company built on a consumer…

With the end of Workplace, it’s fair to wonder if Meta was ever serious about the enterprise