RIP Seminal Smartwatch Brand Pebble



The brand is dead—but its creators may remain influential in tech

We reported last week that seminal wearable brand Pebble was poised to be purchased by Fitbit—the only smart-device maker in the world that outpaces Apple in revenue.

Now Pebble is confirming that the buyout actually means the end for the brand.

An announcement on the company’s Kickstarter page reads: “Fitbit has agreed to acquire key Pebble assets. Due to various factors, Pebble can no longer operate as an independent entity, and we have made the tough decision to shut down the company. The deal finalized today preserves as much of Pebble as possible.”

Which doesn’t seem to be much. The announcement goes on to say, “Pebble is ceasing all hardware operations. We are no longer manufacturing, promoting, or selling any new products. Active Pebble models in the wild will continue to work.”

Without any support for its users, presumably—bad news for consumers of the not-inexpensive smartwatches. 

Fitbit said in a statement last week that the purchase excludes Pebble’s hardware.

So what is Fitbit buying? Pebble’s software engineers and testers, according to Bloomberg, along with “intellectual property such as the Pebble watch’s operating system, watch apps, and cloud services.”

Fitbit didn’t disclose the price of the deal, but Bloomberg’s (unnamed) sources, who are close to the company, said it was less than $40 million and that “Pebble’s debt and other obligations exceed that.” 

Around 40 percent of Pebble staff have received job offers from Fitbit in the past week—and Eric Migicovsky, Pebble’s CEO, will be rejoining start-up incubator Y Combinator as a partner, “advising early-stage companies on hardware development,” according to Bloomberg.

(Photos of Pebble smartwatches courtesy of the company)

 

JCK Magazine Editor