It appears to be the end of the line for Kickstarter darling Pebble. Multiple sources are reporting that the smartwatch pioneer is being acquired by Fitbit for a “small amount” of money.
A fire sale
The Information was the first to report the news, which comes just months after Pebble was forced to lay off about a quarter of its workforce due to declining sales. Fitbit is expected to shut down the Pebble line over time as it focuses on using the company’s intellectual property and software.
Pebble has long been courted by suitors who were willing to pay much more for the company than Fitbit. Watchmaker Citizen wanted to buy the company in 2015 for $740 million. Before the launch of the Pebble 2 earlier this year, the company’s value dropped considerably as Intel offered to make a purchase for around $70 million.
TechCrunch believes Fitbit is buying Pebble for as little as $34 million, which is “barely covering their debts.”
The first Pebble
In 2012, Pebble Technology Corporation raised a then-record $10.3 million through a Kickstarter campaign for the first-generation Pebble watch. When the device finally arrived in 2013, it quickly sold out. By the end of 2014, Pebble had sold its one millionth smartwatch.
In 2015, the company introduced the Pebble Time and Time Steel. Once again, Pebble turned to Kickstarter for support, where it raised a record $20.3 million.
Nearly $13 million was raised for the Pebble 2 earlier this year.
While I’m sad to see Pebble fade, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Smartwatches remain a niche product, at best. And with Apple and Samsung as market leaders, there was probably little that Pebble could do to remain relevant in the long term. It will be interesting to see how Fitbit uses Pebble’s technology in future products, if at all.
Want to buy a Pebble 2? Do so now at Amazon.