PicoBrew, the homebrewing appliance startup based in Seattle, is effectively shutting down the Spoon has learned today.
Back in February, the Spoon broke the story about PicoBrew entering the Washington State bankruptcy process in the form of court-managed receivership. Earlier this month, we uncovered news that the company had put up for sale via auction what looked to be most of the company’s warehouse and PicoPak assembly equipment.
And today we’ve learned that the company’s new owner, which our sources tell us is the former bridge lender who pushed the company into the receivership process, has won full ownership of the company as a result of submitting the winning bid.
According to sources, former company CEO Bill Mitchell sent a letter out this week that called PicoBrew and what happened a “noble failure.” And yesterday, the founder team (Bill Mitchell, his brother Jim Mitchell and Avi Geiger) was let go, along with the customer service team.
It’s unclear at this point what the company’s new management will do with PicoBrew. PicoBrew had assembled quite a decent patent portfolio around automated home brewing as well as in other areas such as home distilling. With the cap table effectively wiped clean, one can assume the assets (like the patents) are now fully owned by the winning bidder, so there’s a chance they’ll try to license the IP to future companies building products in home brewing. There’s also the chance they will try to sell the entire portfolio to the highest bidder.
As for continuing in the business under the PicoBrew brand, the chances for that are slim. The auction made it clear that the new owner is getting rid of all of the operational pieces of the business, something that wouldn’t make all that much sense if the plan was to continue on under the PicoBrew brand.
Finally, it remains to be seen what will happen to existing PicoBrew products. The servers that connect to the PicoBrew apps are still running for now, but it’s unclear if that will remain to be the case. Some PicoBrew users have suggested that the company open-source the software and allow the community to take over development, but it’s too soon to tell if the new owners would be open to such an idea.
We’ll keep an eye on this story and update you with any developments.