Framework won’t be just a laptop company anymore - 4 minutes read

Today, Framework is the modular repairable laptop company. Tomorrow, it wants to be a consumer electronics company, period. That’s one of the biggest reasons it just raised another $18 million in funding — it wants to expand beyond the laptop into “additional product categories.”

Framework CEO Nirav Patel tells me that has always been the plan. The company originally had other viable ideas beyond laptops, too. “We chose to take on the notebook space first,” he says, partly because Framework knew it could bootstrap its ambitions by catering to the PC builders and tinkerers and Linux enthusiasts left behind by big OEMs — and partly because it wanted to go big or go home.

If Framework could succeed in laptops, he thought, it would be able to build almost anything.

After five years building laptops, what might Framework add to the portfolio? Patel won’t say — I only get the barest hints, no matter how many different ways I ask.

He won’t even say if they’ll make less or more of a splash than laptops. Framework might choose an “equally difficult” category or might instead try something “a bit smaller and simpler to execute, streamlined now that we have all this infrastructure.”

Nor will he say if they’ll similarly be bootstrapped by enthusiast gadget lovers or skew more toward the everyday consumer. (Patel recently suggested to Jason Carman that Framework might adapt its marketing to reach more everyday audiences.)

“The first product is the first stake in the ground.”

But Patel does suggest these new products won’t be one-offs — that when Framework raises funding for a new product category, it builds a roadmap of how to continue that product year after year. “Every time a product lands on a roadmap, we’re not going to say: ‘That’s repairable, that’s it.’ The first product is the first stake in the ground.”

The company’s $9 million seed round paid for the original 13-inch laptop design, which has carried on for three generations of components. Framework’s $18 million Series A in 2022 paid for the Framework Laptop 16. Now, it’s getting another $18 million for its next expansion.

It occurs to me: might Framework’s team need to focus on a few lingering laptop issues before moving on to new territory? But Patel says the company’s laptop teams won’t shrink over time — it’s just that some cohorts, like industrial designers, don’t need to stick around after a design is locked.

(Unlike most laptop companies, locking the design is a plus for Framework since the idea is to let you keep the same chassis year after year as you upgrade and repair parts.)

Patel says both the Framework Laptop 13 and Framework Laptop 16 have long lives ahead of them, even though he still won’t quite commit to the 16-inch model getting future GPU upgrades. “You’ll be the first to know,” he tells me.

Today, Framework has about 50 employees, and it plans to expand to 60 before the end of the year, with “a bit of additional team growth” in 2025. It’s a small company that needs to partner to actually produce hardware; I gather that its laptop partner, Compal, for example, does a bit more than just run the assembly lines.

So if you did want to sleuth out what Framework’s cooking next, you might want to take a look at the web of relationships that the company’s building because there’s an explicit hint about that in its press release: “We’ve had a number of early partnership discussions with other startups in our investors’ portfolios,” one line reads.

Another line points out that Cooler Master, which designed the thermal solution inside the Framework Laptop 16 and is now a direct investor, might help Framework build new products, too. “We have additional collaborations with the Cooler Master team in incubation now.”

Framework also says it’ll let 100 community members invest $10,000 each of their own money in the company, so long as they’re accredited investors.

Source: The Verge

Powered by