In a Medium post today, Electric Objects founder and CEO Jake Levine announced that his digital art display company is shutting down. The hardware business will completely cease to exist while Giphy has acquired the Electric Objects iOS / Android app. The news comes less than a year after the launch of its second-generation EO2 display, which I reviewed here. At the time, I had hope for Electric Objects. In addition to revenue from the displays themselves, the company had just launched Art Club, its subscription-based service that provided users with quality digital art. In some cases, the company even commissioned artists to design for the electronic displays.
On the bright side of this deal, Art Club is being opened up to the public and will live on. You can check it out here, and — sort of morbidly — use the art as your phone background or put it on another screen. All existing EO1s and EO2s will continue to work, and now you can display art for free. The bad news is that if you were on a monthly plan or already paid for Art Club ahead of time, you won’t be getting reimbursed.
Electric Objects raised $1.7 million in venture funding when it launched in 2014, and the company raised $787,612 on Kickstarter to bring their first batch of screens to life. Both the EO1 and EO2 have routinely sold out. The EO2 currently has a wait list of buyers. The company will not be creating any more units and has none for sale currently.
Admittedly, Art Club was the highlight of Electric Objects for me. I appreciated that the company worked hard to partner with reputable artists and paid them for their work. The display was also a novel way to approach digital art, and I still think there’s a market for it. I’m bummed Electric Objects won’t be helping to develop the future of art.
With the company out of the market, Meural is left on its own. I tested their display earlier this year and enjoyed it. I only wished it had access to Art Club’s range of art, but now, it’s entirely possible for Meural owners to download and use Art Club art on their Meural display. I’d do this immediately.
I’m not sure what Giphy has planned for the future, or how Art Club fits into its plans, but Levine wrote that the company is committed to the arts. Maybe a display is in its future, or maybe it’s building its digital art repertoire for something bigger. I guess we’ll see eventually, but for now, go back and appreciate all the great digital art Electric Objects funded. You can enjoy it from your computer screen or phone display, which I guess is where it’s going to live for the foreseeable future.