Under Armour Buys Mobile Workout Veteran MapMyFitness For $150M As It Looks To Keep Pace In Digital Fitness

With origins dating back to 2005, MapMyFitness has become a veteran of the online health and fitness space, having built a suite of websites and apps (like MapMyRUN.com, MapMyRIDE.com, MapMyWALK.com, et al) that allow fitness novices and enthusiasts alike to track and store their running, cycling, walking and hiking activity. Over the years, the startup has rounded out its expanding fitness platform with a bevy of complementary services like route planning, nutrition tracking, fitness calculators, event planning and by integrating with over 400 trackers, devices and wearables.

Today, MapMyFitness owns one of the largest mobile fitness communities out there, with 20 million registered users, tens of millions of downloads across its mobile devices and 9 million monthly active users. Apparently, this was a footprint in the fitness world that proved too enticing to ignore for one of the biggest names in athletic apparel. This morning, Under Armour, the Baltimore-based sports clothing giant whose sweat-wicking, synthetic fabrics made it the poster child for next-gen performance apparel, announced today that it will be acquiring MapMyFitness in a deal worth up to $150 million.

While Under Armour has one of the more recognizable brands in the athletic apparel world, the company was slow out of the gates in the race to digitize and, consequently, is on a mission to modernize and maintain its relevance in an increasingly mobile world. By acquiring MapMyFitness, a leader in fitness and activity tracking for mobile devices, Under Armour now has the foundation on which in plans to build a new, digital training experience and mobile fitness platform.

In addition, Under Armour plans to use its latest acquisition to accelerate its plans to enter the biometric measurement and tracking arena. Fitness tracking is a space in which the Baltimore-based company has traditionally lagged behind other athletic giants, like Nike, which launched its social fitness platform back in 2006 (Nike+) and today counts over 20 million members in its ranks.

Since then Nike has launched its own successful activity tracker, the Fuelband, as well as a bevy of related mobile fitness apps and even a TechStars-powered startup accelerator.

The market for fitness apps, devices and services, while emergent, has been growing like gangbusters over the last few years, and Gartner said in a recent report that it expects the market to grow from $1.6 billion this year to $5 billion by 2016. As a result, a gaggle of companies compete with Nike (and now Under Armour) on the health tracking side with their own proprietary, wearable devices — from established players like Fitbit, Jawbone and Adidas to the more recent entry of tech giants like Google and Apple.

As sensors improve and continue to advance, the line between traditional “health tracking” devices and platforms and more broadly consumer-facing wearables continues to blur, and Under Armour has a long road ahead as it looks to go toe-to-toe with established social fitness communities and their companion apps. That being said, the market continues to expand, providing plenty of opportunity for these capital-rich companies, as it evolves into a lucrative — and no doubt competitive — battleground.

It’s likely for this reason that, while Under Armour currently has an $8-plus billion market cap, the company was eager to pay tribute to the mobile platform and suite of apps MapMyFitness had been able to build over the last eight-odd years. Signaling the company’s high hopes for the digital development of the Under Armour brand under MapMyFitness, the company labeled its new acquisition one of the “largest connected fitness communities in the world.”

To give this superlative some context, MapMyFitness has seen approximately 83 million installs of its apps since launch, placing it among the top five sports and fitness app developers, alongside companies like Runtastic and Azumio.

Under Armour’s existing digital (and wearable) product portfolio, while meager compared to its competitors, is completely devoid of activity, as the company offers a $150, wearable health tracker and chest strap called Armour39. The device and fitness system allow users to track calories burned, heart rate and a few other biometric signals and comes with a companion Android app.

Under Armour will look to accelerate its digital and mobile product development, building a new fitness platform around Armour39 and MapMyFitness. With MapMyFitness representing Under Armour’s first acquisition to date and a totally new direction for the company, it’s clear that a good deal of thought went into the deal before Under Armour finally pulled the trigger.

To that point, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank began using the MapMyFitness platform over two years ago and quietly initiated acquisition discussions earlier this year.

The apparel company said that it plans to finance its first acquisition with “borrowings under its existing revolving credit facility, cash on hand or a combination thereof,” as it considers “longer-term funding options for the transaction.” As part of a deal which is expected to close by the end of the year, MapMyFitness will continue to operate out of its headquarters in Austin and Under Armour reportedly has no plans to shutter the MapMyFitness platform or its bevy of apps.

Furthermore, the Under Armour CEO also told the WSJ that retaining the MapMyFitness team — “in particular its chief executive Robin Thurston” became a “critical part of the acquisition” and, together, they will be a “central part of any technology acquisitions going forward.”