Nothing is coming for Apple with fresh funding and the Phone 2

28 Jun 2023

Founder and CEO Carl Pei. Image: Nothing

Backed by Google and Swedish House Mafia, Carl Pei’s Nothing hopes to be the alternative to Apple for a younger generation of smartphone users.

London-based smartphone brand Nothing has raised $96m in its latest funding round to further strengthen its position in the consumer tech industry.

Founded by Carl Pei in 2021, Nothing grabbed international attention when it launched its Phone 1 device to compete with the iPhone last year. Pei is famous for having previously co-founded Chinese electronics brand OnePlus with Pete Lau in 2013. He left OnePlus in 2020.

Pitching itself as an innovative challenger in the somewhat saturated global consumer electronics market, Nothing is developing a whole host of devices to “make tech fun again”.

Since its launch last year, the Phone 1 smartphone has been hailed by Times Magazine as one of the best inventions of 2022 for its innovative design. Earlier this year, the phone received the Red Dot Design Award, along with the rest of Nothing’s current product portfolio. Other products made by Nothing include true wireless audio devices Ear 2 and Ear Stick.

Now Pei and his team are gearing up to unveil Phone 2 to the world, which is scheduled to launch on 11 July. Nothing said the Phone 2 features a lower carbon footprint than its predecessor and comes with an upgraded design and features.

Nothing compares to Apple

Pei, who leads the company as CEO, said as part of the funding announcement today (28 June) that Nothing has assembled “one of the strongest teams in the industry” and sold more than 1.5m devices worldwide in just over two years.

“It’s clear that there’s real demand for an innovative challenger in the consumer tech industry, and with this new round of financing, we’ve never been better positioned to realise our vision to make tech fun again.”

His mission is to offer customers an ecosystem experience that is on par with Apple. “If you want products that connect and work seamlessly together, the only choice is Apple,” he said last year. “As soon as you leave that ecosystem for a Windows PC or an Android phone, it breaks down. There is no alternative to Apple. We’re building the most compelling alternative.”

The latest investment was led by London-based Highland Europe, with participation from existing investors GV (Google Ventures), EQT Ventures, C Capital and music group Swedish House Mafia.

Tony Zappalà, partner at Highland Europe, said that Pei shares the VC firm’s vision of “bridging technology with the younger generation”.

“In an industry as challenging as this, it has been quite some time since a new company of this scale and ambition has reached this stage, given the difficulty and complexity of surviving in such a competitive environment.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic