Tripp Mickle and Erin Griffith, reporting for The New York Times:

Days before gadget reviewers weighed in on the Humane Ai Pin, a futuristic wearable device powered by artificial intelligence, the founders of the company gathered their employees and encouraged them to brace themselves. The reviews might be disappointing, they warned.

Humane’s founders, Bethany Bongiorno and Imran Chaudhri, were right. In April, reviewers brutally panned the new $699 product, which Humane had marketed for a year with ads and at glitzy events like Paris Fashion Week. The Ai Pin was “totally broken” and had “glaring flaws,” some reviewers said. One declared it “the worst product I’ve ever reviewed.”

It is literally the most embarrassing thing for any company to assume the reviews for its product are going to be “disappointing” before reviewers even publish their work. That’s how confident Humane was: not very confident at all. No good product maker would sell a product it thinks is sub-par from the get-go, but of course, Humane did just that because the Ai Pin is a cheap grift designed to please its venture capitalist investors — and it knows that. Humane never cared about making a product, it just cared about making money. Speaking of money:

About a week after the reviews came out, Humane started talking to HP, the computer and printer company, about selling itself for more than $1 billion, three people with knowledge of the conversations said. Other potential buyers have emerged, though talks have been casual and no formal sales process has begun.

Humane retained Tidal Partners, an investment bank, to help navigate the discussions while also managing a new funding round that would value it at $1.1 billion, three people with knowledge of the plans said.

Humane now wants to sell itself to HP because it has done the job it promised to investors: to deliver a product and sell it successfully. “Successfully” is really only defined in the eye of the beholder, but I assume Humane just thinks that means “scam enough people out of $700 to make a dent in the balance sheets.” Whatever it is, Humane now needs to make money to pay its investors and severance for its employees, and the owners will book it into the woods with whatever is left of the money pot. It’s a classic failed Silicon Valley startup. But why didn’t Humane profit earlier; why isn’t it profitable now?

As of early April, Humane had received around 10,000 orders for the Ai Pin, a small fraction of the 100,000 that it hoped to sell this year, two people familiar with its sales said. In recent months, the company has also grappled with employee departures and changed a return policy to address canceled orders. On Wednesday, it asked customers to stop using the Ai Pin charging case because of a fire risk associated with its battery.

That explains it. To be profitable, or to meet a standard of success, the company needed to make a good product. Instead, the Humane Ai Pin explodes while it’s charging. On top of that, it’s essentially worthless, slow, and expensive, so nobody other than a few enthusiasts bought one. Humane only fulfilled 10 percent of its self-set quota, per se, and that wasn’t enough to be profitable. Profit is a byproduct of making a good product, but it is not the byproduct and certainly shouldn’t be the goal. Humane’s primary objective, as I stated earlier, was not to make a good product — it already knew its device was garbage — but to make money, and when a company works with that ethos, it’s designed to fail.

Many current and former employees said Mr. Chaudhri and Ms. Bongiorno preferred positivity over criticism, leading them to disregard warnings about the Ai Pin’s poor battery life and power consumption. A senior software engineer was dismissed after raising questions about the product, they said, while others left out of frustration.

That doesn’t surprise me because I know why this gadget was even created in the first place: A Buddhist monk led Humane’s founders to an angel investor who persuaded them to build a miraculous phone replacement that would later become the Ai Pin. This is a true story. With directionless la-la-land founders like that, the project was designed to fail. I don’t think the problem is toxic positivity like how The Times says — instead, I believe Chaudhri and Bongiorno’s immense egos prevented staffers from raising questions about the device’s premise. It took the general public a day of mulling over Humane’s horrible launch video to realize Humane was dead in the water, but Humane’s intelligent workers weren’t able to say the same after five years of work? I doubt it.

One was the device’s laser display, which consumed tremendous power and would cause the pin to overheat. Before showing the gadget to prospective partners and investors, Humane executives often chilled it on ice packs so it would last longer, three people familiar with the demonstrations said. Those employees said such measures could be common early in a product development cycle.

Never work for a company whose founders are egotistic.

In January, Humane laid off about 10 employees. A month later, a senior software engineer was let go after she questioned whether the Ai Pin would be ready by April. In a company meeting after the dismissal, Mr. Chaudhri and Ms. Bongiorno said the employee had violated policy by talking negatively about Humane, two attendees said.

That is an unbelievably ridiculous policy, one that I don’t even think Apple has in place. Surely letting go of an employee for speaking negatively about the company they work for internally is illegal.

Humane, as of now, is a disaster. Ai Pins are internally combusting, the company is in financial crisis, its employees are dissatisfied, its founders are listening to Buddhist monks while reprimanding smart people, and it’s now trying to sell to a printer company in the news for disabling printers because customers don’t want to pay subscriptions. All of this, and Humane is still selling its tiny stovetop for $700 while charging users $25 a month. And if Humane does sell to HP and closes up shop, every last Humane Ai Pin will become e-waste, because without the backend subscription Humane operates, the pin is a paperweight.

Now, please, no more about this company.