Fitbit Is Close to Buying Software Assets from Pebble

Manila Bulletin, December 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

Fitbit Is Close to Buying Software Assets from Pebble


By Bloomberg

Fitbit Inc., the fitness band maker, is close to buying software assets from struggling smartwatch startup Pebble Technology Corp. in a bid to better compete with Apple Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal is mainly about hiring the startup's software engineers and testers, and getting intellectual property such as the Pebble watch's operating system, watch apps, and cloud services, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about an unannounced transaction.

The purchase price is less than $40 million, and Pebble's debt and other obligations exceed that, two of the people said. Fitbit is not taking on the debt, one of the people said. The rest of Pebble's assets, including product inventory and server equipment, will be sold off separately, some of the people said. An announcement is imminent, the people added. Fitbit declined to comment and Pebble Chief Executive Officer Eric Migicovsky didn't respond to a request for comment.

The Pebble fire sale is the result of financial struggles in a smartwatch market that failed to grow as quickly or as large as initially hoped and hyped. Industry shipments slumped 52 percent in the third quarter, according to research firm IDC, and Pebble cut a quarter of its staff earlier this year.

Apple Watch sales have been lackluster compared with iPhones, although Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook told Reuters Tuesday that sales are "off the charts."

Fitbit has had its own struggles, with its stock slumping 34 percent on Nov. 3 after the company cut a holiday sales forecast. After years of focusing on fitness wearables, Fitbit got into smartwatches with the introduction of the Blaze this year. Grabbing Pebble's software talent and other resources, like its developer relationships, may help Fitbit better compete with Apple's Watch. …

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