Jibo Inc. quietly replaced its CEO in December, roughly two months after the Boston-based company released its eponymous $899 social robot.
The company’s website lists its new CEO as Brian Eberman, who had been Jibo’s CTO since he joined the company in May 2017, according to his LinkedIn. Eberman’s profile indicates that he started the new position in December when the company laid off an unspecified number of employees to focus on building new capabilities for its robot.
Eberman replaces Steve Chambers, who had served as CEO since May 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile, and is now listed on the website as executive chairman. Like Chambers, Eberman previously worked at Nuance Communications, a voice computing company, as an executive. More recently, Eberman served as an executive-in-residence at Bolt, a hardware-focused venture capital firm, and president and COO of EnglishCentral.
A company representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jibo, which has raised more than $70 million in venture capital, launched its social robot in late October after nearly two years of delays following its $3.6 million Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2014. Reviews have praised the robot for being “adorable” and “a pretty daft conversationalist” while panning the product for its limited functionality. The Boston Globe’s Scott Kirsner said Jibo only offers “one-tenth the functionality” of voice assistants like the Amazon Echo while costing 10 times as much.
When the company confirmed the December layoffs to BostInno, a spokeswoman said adding more capabilities is a top priority for Jibo. That same week, the company announced a new Jibo Music feature in partnership with iHeartRadio, and at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, it revealed a new app that lets users remotely control Jibo and create custom dialogue.