Life-like Pleo about to hit market; raises $8M in venture backing

Updated

Silicon Valley start-up Ugobe is getting ready to bring its “revolutionary” new life-like toy, Pleo, to market. The creature is due out this fall (udpate: turns out this is not true; see below).

Pleo gets happy when you stroke and play with it, but gets depressed or plays with itself when you leave it alone. Click on the image above for a demo from several months ago.

The company has just raised an additional $8 million from investors, and will probably raise more, as it prepares for Pleo’s marketing. Silicontap has the scoop.

Nine months ago, we reported how toy inventor Caleb Chung, creator of Furby, joined forces with former Lucasfilm President Gordon Radley at Emeryville-based Ugobe to work on Pleo.

Investors in the round were not disclosed, however the firm’s previous investors include the Band of Angels, First Round Capital and HillardVC, among others. Ugobe says it will deliver “robotic technology that transforms inanimate objects into life-like creatures exhibiting stunning, organic movements and behaviors.”

Update: Turns out, SiliconTap was relying on Ugobe’s Web site for the release date, but it wasn’t clear. The company has clarified: Pleo
online pre-orders will begin on December 24, 2006 and Pleo will arrive in the homes of consumers who placed these online pre-orders in early March
2007, the company said. That is a blow, because the delay means a miss of the holiday season — unless parents want to make a promise of a gift on Christmas eve, and hope it will arrive three months later. That’s when Pleo will also hit store shelves, the company said.

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