FitBit collects $12M on the heels of Fuelband debut

Krystal Peak · January 24, 2012 · Short URL:

The mobile activity tracking market is heating up for some serious 2012 competition

It has been a busy couple of weeks in the world of mobile health wristbands. Just before Christmas, Jawbone raked in $40 million from several investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Deutsche Telekom and Yuri Milner -- which brought the total funding for the company to $210 million. Then last week, Nike announced its own activity tracking wristband called the Fuelband. and now, Fitibt announced that it has pocketed $12 million more dollars to bring its tools to those trying to track their daily activity.

This series C funding round was led by The Foundry Group and True Ventures. Fitbit stated that it plans to grow its engineering team and to expand internationally with the help of this new capital. 

Fitbit was one of the first companies to bring a compact device that digitally tracks your movements throughout the day and syncs to computer devices. Then Jawbone and Nike entered the sphere, each offering their own interpretation of wristbands that log your movements.

The company's signature device is the Fitbit Ultra, which tracks your steps, running activity, and how much you walk up stairs -- it can also track your sleep.

The device looks like a plastic clip and can be worn on a wristband, in the center of a bra or on a belt to track activity.

The company also recently released a Wi-Fi smart scale called Aria. The scale was debuted at the Consumer Electronic Show earlier this year and tracks weight, body mass index, body fat percentage and tracks along with the FitBit Ultra information.

FitBit products are sold at more than 5,000 locations including 24 Hour Fitness, RadioShack, Target and Brookstone.

"We've moved beyond being a single product company and are creating incredible digital health products and experiences. This funding will help us accelerate the hiring of the best hardware and software engineers, designers, product managers and marketers, " said James Park, CEO and co-founder of Fitbit. "This is the perfect time for passionate and smart people to join us as we create devices and services that improve the health of millions."

In 2007, Park was inspired to create this company when he wanted to shed the extra pounds he gained while working on two other startups. 

Now that several companies have entered the mobile activity tracking tool space, there should be some interesting development and upgrades seen.

FitBit's biggest competitor up to this point has been Jawbone'e UP device which has been valued, by the International Business Times, at near $1.5 billion.

Jawbone ran into some public relations and service issues in the last few weeks when users of its $99 UP wristband were reporting syncing, monitoring and use issues and the CEO, Hosain Rahman, issued an apology two weeks ago and a promise of full-refunds AND replacements to all those interested.

"We recognize that this product has not yet lived up to everyone’s expectations – including our own," Rahman wrote to consumers. "Jawbone remains deeply committed to addressing all issues with UP, investing in the category and giving our customers the tools to live a healthier life. We’ve temporarily paused production of UP bands and will begin taking new orders once these issues have been sorted out. In the meantime, we’ll continue to release app updates for existing users."

The refund program was launched on Dec. 9 and applies to any UP bracelet purchased from a Jawbone retailer in 2011.

The new Nike FuelBand is a wrist-band, similar to the Jawbone UP that was pulled from the market for faulty readings, and syncs your activity data to a PC or iPhone.

This new device brings a major sporting company even further into the health technology sphere -- with an even deeper partnership with Apple.

Last year, Nike created a geo-location based app for the iPhone that lets runners track their routes while listening to their workout tunes and now they are brining food and other activity tracking to the iPhone so that active people are able to track their progress.

"The NIKE+ FuelBand is a way for Nike to further evolve the exciting possibilities of merging the physical and digital worlds," said NIKE, Inc. President & CEO Mark Parker, in a statement. "Nike has always been about inspiring athletes, and the NIKE+ FuelBand will help motivate them in a simple, fun and intuitive way."

The band has been designed to be worn throughout the day and can measure various movement while depicting the person's progress with an assortment of LED lights on the band. 

Users are able to set daily goals of how active they want to be that will signal to the band whether you are in the red or the green as far as progress.  

"The digital health and fitness device category requires a deep understanding of consumer needs, an unquestionable ability to deliver a successful product and technical expertise built from years of experience in the industry," said Brad Feld, Managing Director at Foundry Group, in a statement. "Fitbit has demonstrated these traits while building and launching several successful digital health products and services and is clearly the leading company to grow this category to its full potential."

All of these mobile tools hover between $99-$149 in that sweet, yet affordable spot of electronic luxuries. 



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Did I get enough exercise today? How many calories did I burn? Am I getting good quality sleep? How many steps and miles did I walk today? The Fitbit Tracker helps you answer these questions.