Sensor and analytics vendor Motionloft closes

Motionloft is ending its data collection services on Jan. 17, leaving its customers without a way to use their Motionloft sensors. The company is insolvent.

Motionloft, a private smart sensor and data analytics vendor, will end data collection services on Jan. 17, after having closed its offices in December.

“As of December 19, 2019, ABC Services Group is now handling the business affairs of Motionloft, Inc.,” according to an outgoing message on Motionloft’s general business line Monday.

ABC Services Group helps companies sell off assets, although it is unclear if any buyers are currently interested in Motionloft. ABC Services Group bills itself as an alternative to bankruptcy.

Clients

Founded in 2010 and based in San Francisco, Motionloft sold hardware sensors to capture pedestrian and vehicular movement, as well as neural network-based services to anonymize that data and send it in nearly real time to customers. That data could then be used to gauge pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

Its clients included retailers, event venues, and municipalities, including the city of Santa Cruz in California. 

The company attracted investors, including the well-known entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA basketball team and cast member of the television show Shark Tank. Cuban appears to be Motionloft’s largest investor: Motionloft’s news releases have often  referred to the company as a “Mark Cuban investment” or “Mark Cuban company.”

Motionloft will end its data collection services on Jan. 17, according to Dave McCormic, asset and development manager for the Santa Cruz Economic Development Office. The company will allow customers to access old data for another few months.

“It’s a bummer. We really were excited,” McCormic said, adding that the technology Motionloft provided worked well for the city.

Originally, McCormic said he was intrigued by vendors that capture data by analyzing pings on local Wi-Fi networks. Those vendors, he said, offered a broader approach than Motionloft, which uses cameras and sensors to capture data. However, some areas of downtown Santa Cruz do not yet have public Wi-Fi, and many beachgoers don’t carry around mobile phones.

Santa Cruz executed an agreement with Motionloft in May 2019 for nine motion sensors, which were installed in June in Santa Cruz’s downtown and wharf area, along with the services to run them. The installation and first-year operating costs totaled about $31,000, according to McCormic. The service would have cost about $14,100 per year after the first year.

The city collected valuable data using the sensors, McCormic said.

However, now that the services are ending, the sensors, which the city had to hardwire into its light poles, are all but useless.

“We punched holes in light poles, did wiring for them and everything,” McCormic said.

“At least it made it through the holiday season and the summer. Those are the busiest times of the year for us,” he added.

ABC Services Group has informed Motionloft clients that it is looking for buyers of the vendor’s technology. It also alerted customers they could file claims to try to get their money back.

Out of business

The closure was sudden. Motionloft informed its clients as early as November about its financial troubles.

It appears “they were still trying to pump up excitement while they were on the path to bankruptcy,” McCormic said.

Publicly, the company seemed to be doing well. In June 2019, the company said it started Motionloft Japan, with a new office in Tokyo. Just a few weeks before Motionloft told clients about its fiscal problems, it had also pitched new services to Santa Cruz.

However, Motionloft had a spotty history. Notably, in 2014, Motionloft’s founder and former CEO Jim Mills was arrested by the FBI for defrauding investors out of more than $765,000. Mills was sentenced to two years in federal prison the next year.

Joyce Reitman, who became Motionloft CEO in November 2013, left the company in August 2019 to join Mark Cuban Companies, Cuban’s portfolio of companies, as a senior executive advisor. Ryan Kline then served as CEO until Motionloft closed; he previously was an associate at Mark Cuban Companies.

“It’s a shame. It’s a neat product, but I guess that’s the way it goes in tech,” McCormic said.

 

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