Fitbit is buying troubled smartwatch maker Pebble for around $40 million
It looks consolidation is acoming to the wearables space with Fitbit set to acquire smartwatch maker and multi-million-dollar Kickstarter-darling Pebble, according to a report from The Information.
The site reports that the acquisition is a “small amount” but there’s no word on exactly how much, or indeed how little. Further, The Information said that the deal will see Pebble and its products closed down over time, with Fitbit acquiring its assets, which include intellectual property and software.
“We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” a spokesperson from Fitbit told TechCrunch. Pebble is yet to respond to our request for comment.
A source close to the company told TechCrunch that watch maker Citizen was interested in purchasing Pebble for $740 million in 2015. This deal failed and before the launch of the Pebble 2 Intel made an offer for $70 million. The CEO, Eric Migicovsky refused both offers. Our source said that Fitbit is now paying between $34 and $40 million for the company and is “barely covering their debts.”
Pebble released the newest version of its smartwatch in October, but the past year or so has been a challenging period. It laid off 25 percent of its staff in March, while we reported last year that it was in some trouble and had turned to debt funding and loans, as well as traditional investor cash, “in order to stay afloat.” Earlier this year, Pebble CEO Migicovsky confirmed that his company had raised $28 million in debt and venture financing. He blamed a more cautious outlook from VCs focused on tech as the primary reason for letting 40 of Pebble’s staff go.
Fitbit, too, has experienced its own challenges. The company priced its shares at $50 a go when it listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2015, but today it is trading at $8.40. That depression is largely down to less-than-impressive financial results. Some may cite the emergence of Apple and the Apple Watch as a competitor, but analyst reports have noted that smartwatch sales are tanking as initial consumer interest in wearable devices has waned.