Fossil Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of smartwatches, announced yesterday that it is selling $40 million in intellectual property to Google—all related to a smartwatch technology currently in development.
As part of the deal, Google’s also conscripting an undefined percentage of Fossil Group’s roughly 200-strong team of hardware, software, and product designers currently at work on the new technology. The employees will join Google when the deal closes.
Greg McKelvey, Fossil’s executive vice president of chief strategy and digital officer, told Wareable the technology is “a new product innovation that’s not yet hit the market.” The executive added that he views the deal as a transaction, not an acquisition, and explained that the intellectual property is “based on something out of our timeline [and] it’s new-to-the-market technology, and we think it’s a product that has features and benefits that aren’t in the category today.”
In the statement, McKelvey said, “We’ve built and advanced a technology that has the potential to improve upon our existing platform of smartwatches. Together with Google…we’ll continue to unlock growth in wearables.”
Stacey Burr, president of product management for Google’s WearOS platform (the operating system for Google’s smartwatches), said in the statement that the addition of Fossil Group’s technology and team to Google “demonstrates our commitment to the wearables industry by enabling a diverse portfolio of smartwatches and supporting the ever-evolving needs of the vitality-seeking, on-the-go consumer.”
Fossil has developed and launched smartwatches across 14 of its owned and licensed brands. Its portfolio of licensees is full of household names—Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Puma, Diesel, Armani, and Skagen among them—that have gone on to perform well in the smartwatch market. The company’s house brands are Fossil and Misfit, the seminal connected label the group acquired in 2015 for $260 million.
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