Jawbone: Acquisition rumors, executive churn, body fat patent filing

By: Brian Dolan | May 27, 2014        

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Jawbone Up 24This year has proven to be an eventful one for fitness wearables-maker Jawbone, which for the past few weeks has been the subject of acquisition rumors, according to a number of sources. Of course, all that noise could just be from the company’s investors who may still be in the final stages of closing a hoped-for $250 million round of funding at a $3.3 billion valuation.

Last year Jawbone, which offers the UP line of fitness trackers, raised about $100 million in debt and equity. This past February technology publication re/code reported that Twitter investor Rizvi Traverse was leading that round and that it would hit the $250 million mark. Fortune’s Dan Primack reported a few months later — almost exactly a month ago now — that while Rizvi Traverse was committed, it was still working to bring in other investors to fill out the round. This is one of Rizvi’s key responsibilities as the round leader — it may not invest the most, but it is responsible for bringing in new money. 

In mid-February Jawbone also saw the exit of its president Mindy Mount, a former Microsoft executive, after less than one year in the position. This month saw the exit of former BodyMedia CEO Chris Robins who has left to become the CEO of grill company Char-Broil. Jawbone acquired BodyMedia about a year ago.

Nike FuelBand’s recent pulling back from the dedicated device side of the fitness market was both good and bad news for Jawbone. Intel’s snapping up Basis Science earlier this year removed yet another budding competitor from the market. While the FuelBand is still on some store shelves, Fitbit remains one of Jawbone’s only competitors with significant marketshare.

Did Mount’s exit signal a change in Jawbone’s exit plan? When Mount was first brought in the speculation was that her leadership would position the company for an IPO. Are rampant rumors that big technology companies are in talks to acquire Jawbone a move to drum up more interest among investors or do they point to an imminent exit for yet another wearable health and fitness device company? (Following BodyMedia, Basis, Corventis, Zephyr, etc.)

P.S. In less relevant Jawbone news, the USPTO published a patent filing this week from Jawbone that describes what the company believes is a new mobile device and companion app for estimating body fat percentage. Notably, the inventor listed on the patent application is Aza Raskin, the former CEO and co-founder of Massive Health, which Jawbone acquired in early 2013.