The Humane Ai Pin Just Got Humbled — When Hype Meets It’s Maker


Tech people aren’t haters; they’re just jaded and live in an echo chamber

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the Humane AI Pin and a recent major negative tech review by one of the top YouTubers in the above image. While it’s definitely impressive technology, I agree it’s daily use cases are limited but because they raised substantial venture capital and launched multiple teaser videos over the years, they became an easy target for criticism. But that’s just how the tech startup world works when you draw that much attention to yourself — almost like a right of passage.

Having been in tech since 2008 and on Twitter since then as well, I truly don’t believe 99% of tech people and the media are “haters,” but sometimes quick to judge and a little more critical than needed for the engagement. And unfortauntely these days most people don’t take the time to truly understand about the founders and all the years of hard work that led them to today, which is what I love to learn when I meet with founders. As we like to say, it’s a 10yr overnight success sometimes.

What do you actually know about the founders of Humane?

Humane was co-founded by former Apple executives Imran Chaudhri (22yrs) and Bethany Bongiorno (8yrs). They worked on products used by billions of people, which very few people can say and their promos definitely give off that Apple vibe too.

Imran Chaudhri is a designer who had a profound influence at Apple, played a crucial role in the development of several key user interface designs and technologies. His work includes significant contributions to the creation of the iPhone’s user interface, the iPad’s user interface, and the development of the Apple Watch. Chaudhri’s expertise in user experience design helped shape the intuitive and innovative interfaces that millions of Apple users interact with daily. His vision and design principles have had a lasting impact on how Apple products are experienced and perceived globally.

From a Fast company article in 2022 which I’ll touch on at the end:

“He had spent years working under Scott Forstall before being tapped by Ive to join a small group that developed the Apple Watch interface. He also presented at one of the company’s recent developer keynotes. Over time, he began to wrestle with how the company seemed to make fewer innovative leaps.”

Bethany Bongiorno served as a software engineering director at Apple, where she was instrumental in overseeing the development of iOS and MacOS. Her leadership helped streamline the software development processes, enhancing the functionality and user-friendliness of Apple’s operating systems. Bongiorno’s work ensured that the software running on Apple devices was both robust and efficient, contributing to the seamless ecosystem that users enjoy. Her focus on integrating hardware and software provided a foundation for Apple’s continuous innovation in providing cohesive and powerful user experiences.

Together, Chaudhri and Bongiorno’s combined expertise in user interface design and software engineering played pivotal roles in Apple’s success. Their deep understanding of technology and user-centric design philosophies have greatly influenced their work at Humane aiming to redefine human interaction with technology. (The Borg are coming!)

Originally introduced in 2019, the AI Pin was acclaimed as a unique and revolutionary product. For any Star Trek nerd also wising to have that Pin Badge and say “Beam me up Scotty” would be so fun too but I digress. Since its inception, Humane has raised $230 million in venture capital from the top Tier 1 investors, demonstrating strong investor confidence in their vision and the innovative potential of their product. However, the rapid evolution of AI technology in the past few years has presented challenges in maintaining its novelty, highlighting the importance of timing and luck in the startup journey. Despite these hurdles, the achievements of the Humane team remain highly regarded within the industry, serving as an inspiration for new tech ventures.

How do you respond to bad press? Almost all PR is good PR!

If I was their head of comms/PR I would recommend the following approach in light of recent challenges. Part of crisis communications is doing nothing, which is really hard to do sometimes but is a strategic decisions:

  1. Pause and Reflect: Take a 48-hour break to allow for emotions to settle and prevent reactionary measures. Never respond immediately out of anger and spite, you will regret it 99% of the time for a quick ego win.
  2. Research and learn: Utilize the recent exposure from one of the world’s biggest influencers, which likely led to a significant sales spike. This exposure reached a broad consumer base that appreciates the product’s innovation, counteracting some of the negative press and push back on platforms like Twitter.

This strategy should include maintaining a dignified silence or taking a higher ground stance by just learning from the unexpected attention the product has received. And based on my experience with former clients when I had my agency and across our 60+ angel investments, usually a big bad PR day is one of the best sales days.

On a personal note, I have immense admiration for the Humane team. Their journey is noteworthy — not only have they developed products that billions of people use, but they have also embarked on this venture driven by a genuine passion for innovation. This was their first major entrepreneurial undertaking after leaving Apple, which to them, and some of us, stopped innovating like they used to. From the outside that’s easy to criticize buying similar phones every year but from the inside for anyone that’s worked in corporate, I can only imagine the frustration to do more.

Their story inspires me and underscores the complexities of introducing innovative products in today’s tech landscape. I hope to emulate their passion and success in my future endeavors, contributing my own unique innovations to the industry again someday

If I was lucky enough to have been pitched this by then in 2019, there is a good chance I would have invested. Now hindsight is 20/20 and 99% of people would never have predicted how fast Ai is moving right now that possibly made their product less appealing only a few years later. Yay tech…

Connecting Dots

Moment of Zen meme 🙂

Always have an ask!

  1. Are you going to buy the Humane Ai Pin?
  2. What’s your favorite Ai company right now that you most often?
  3. What do you want me to cover next?
  4. Go buy some
  5. Please share this with your friends/network!



Trace Cohen Angel Investor / Family Office/ VC

Angel in 60+ pre-seed/seed startups via New York Venture Partners ( Comms/PR/Strategy