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Amazon Alexa gets a hand in Andy Rubin’s Essential phone startup

Former Android boss Andy Rubin hasn’t launched his post-Google smartphone yet, but that’s not stopping him from raising more money in the meantime. Rubin’s new startup, Essential, just closed a $300 million Series B round led by Access Technology Ventures. Essential also picked up a new strategic investor in Amazon, which contributed an undisclosed sum through its Alexa Fund.

Amazon uses that fund to back companies working with its Alexa voice assistant, yet Rubin has said the Essential phone will ship with an unmodified version of Android, which comes devoid of any Amazon services. Amazon may be more interested in the Essential Home, a smart home control puck that Rubin hopes will work with all the major virtual assistants. The investment suggests the Alexa will be on board, but it’s unclear if Google and Apple will lend their own assistants to the device—or when the Home will ship, for that matter. As for the phone, Essential says it’ll launch in the “coming weeks” on Sprint and Telus (in Canada), with carrier-unlocked models available at Essential.com, Best Buy, and—wait for it—Amazon.JN