Winners & Losers: Pebble returns to Kickstarter, HSBC grovels

Nothing bad ever happens on Kickstarter, right?

 

▲ Pebble

It’s all in the wrist

Pebble smartwatch

The question of whether smartwatches are the next big thing or just a way to signal to others that you’re kind of a dork hasn’t yet been resolved, but Pebble Technology Corp. is finding a willing audience for its products. The Palo Alto-based company, founded by Canadian Eric Migicovsky, raised US$1 million on Kickstarter in less than an hour this week to develop its latest smartwatch, doubling its goal. As of now, with 29 days to go, backers have pledged more than $10 million. This isn’t the first fundraising triumph for Pebble. Nearly three years ago, it set a Kickstarter record when it raised more than $10 million for its very first product. The company soon ran into problems and delays, however, and endured howls of outrage from some of its backers. (Sample grievance: “I am VERY VERY VERY disappointed. It better be one hell of a watch.”) But Pebble developed a bit of a cult following when it finally shipped. The latest version features improvements over the old one: it’s in colour, it’s slimmer, and unlike other smartwatches, eschews a purely app-based interface and instead compiles data and information from apps into a browsable timeline. Apparently there’s also a feature counting down to the launch of Apple’s smartwatch later this year to mark the day all other smartwatches become irrelevant.

HSBC

Bad reputation

HSBC building

HSBC is really really sorry, you guys. The bank’s chairman and CEO appeared before the British Parliament’s Treasury Committee this week to very solemnly and seriously apologize after a whistleblower leaked documents to media revealing HSBC allegedly advised clients on how to hide their wealth in Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying taxes. “We are suffering from horrible reputational damage,” chairman Douglas Flint told the committee. “A bank lives on its reputation.” He’s clearly hurting something awful here, you guys, so there’s no need for fines or punishment or further investigation into anyone, okay? Besides, Flint already made clear in a statement a few days ago that we’re talking about “historical practices and behaviour.” These things happened way back in 2005-2007 (before the iPhone!) and no one can be held responsible for what happened in the past, right? Besides, he’s really sorry. So is CEO Stuart Gulliver, who was found to personally have bank accounts in Switzerland and Panama, though claims he’s paid all taxes owing in the U.K. “I’m responsible for cleaning it up,” he said of the mess, after telling reporters a few days prior that top level executives shouldn’t be held responsible for the actions of individual employees. Did he mention he’s sorry? He and Flint are going to their rooms/luxurious penthouse suites and think really hard about what may or may not have happened at HSBC.

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