It’s been a busy few months for Fitbit. The company has been snatching up startups left and right and announced partnerships galore at CES last week. It’s also engaged in public sniping with Jawbone, one of its chief competitors, in a series of statements and filing tied to patent lawsuits – a company it apparently tried to buy just ahead of the holidays.
That latest bit of information comes courtesy of Financial Times, which reports based on “several people familiar with the situation” that the embattled wearable maker attempted to pick up Jawbone for a “tiny fraction” of its $1.5 billion evaluation. The deal would have been given Fitbit access to the intellectual property of one of its biggest rivals.
Jawbone ultimately rebuked the offer, according to the report, thanks to a some funding on the horizon that will allow the hardware maker to continue to stand on its own.
It’s worth digging into some of the recent back and forth between the two companies here, namely Fitbit’s termination of a patent suit just ahead of Christmas due to what it painted as Jawbone’s extreme financial struggles, “SEC filings of one of its biggest investors now value Jawbone shares as worth nothing, as well as indicate that Jawbone has filed for bankruptcy or is in default.”
That timing would be right in line with its reported acquisition attempts.
Jawbone hit back calling both the suit and Fitbit’s excuse for dropping it “baseless.” Recently, Fitbit has been on something of an acquisition tear, purchasing what was left of Pebble and just this week buying smartwatch-maker, Vector. The purchase of Jawbone, while big, ultimately wouldn’t have been all that surprising – well in line with the company’s recent moves.
Fitbit has refused to comment on the story. We’re still waiting for word back from Jawbone.
Update: Jawbone, too, has unsurprisingly declined to comment.
Update 2: A source close to the story has indicated with TechCrunch that the talks were low-level, more along the lines of one side floating the notion, rather than board level talks about an acquisition.