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Fitbit Closing In On Acquisition of Pebble

Tim Maytom

pebble-time-three-colours.pngFitness tracker and wearable technology firm Fitbit is reportedly set to acquire troubled rival smartwatch maker Pebble in a deal worth up to $40m (£32m).

According to The Information, the two firms are close to signing a deal that would see Fitbit acquire Pebble's intellectual property, including its operating system, but gradually phase out the Pebble brand.

Despite smashing Kickstarter records with both its original monochrome display model and more recent Pebble Time model, the company has faced difficulties over the past 18 months as the smartwatch and wearable market has grown increasingly competitive.

In summer 2015, rumours began to circulate the the firm was facing financial problems, despite having just completed a successful crowdfunding campaign, and March 2016 the company let go of 25 per cent of its workforce, citing nervousness among Silicon Valley investors as the reason for its money issues.

The report from The Information, which cites three people familiar with the deal, claims Fitbit's offer is a "small amount", while a separate report by TechCrunch places the figure at $40m, which would apparently barely cover Pebble's existing debts.

Pebble has reportedly faced acquisition bids in the past, from watch manufacturer Citizen, which offered $740m in 2015, and from Intel, which offered $70m shortly before the launch of the Pebble 2. Both of these offers were rejected by CEO Eric Migicovsky.