Fitbit confirms it is acquiring coaching app Fitstar

By Aditi Pai

FitStarSan Francisco-based Fitbit has confirmed that it will acquire fitness coaching app developer, FitStar, to add more training features, according to a report from TechCrunch. The tech publication had previously reported the deal would be between $25 million to $40 million and include a mix of cash and stock.

FitStar is backed by Google Ventures and Trinity Ventures.

Fitbit already offers a premium $49.99 a year service that includes personalized fitness plans and goals generated after an analysis of the user’s Fitbit data, more in-depth data reports, and comparison tools that compare the user to other Fitbit users. The FitStar acquisition will help Fitbit build out its premium subscription features even more.

FitStar has created two apps, FitStar Personal Trainer and FitStar Yoga. The latter launched a few months ago. Both applications are free to download and use but most of the features require an in-app paid subscription. The apps provide users with workout training videos. They also track the user’s progress and help them reach fitness milestones. FitStar’s apps already sync with Fitbit as well as other activity tracking apps and devices including Jawbone and MyFitnessPal.

“Fitbit was the first hardware tracker FitStar integrated with over two years ago, so FitStar had a long time to get to know the team and realize that the two companies have a shared vision of where the digital fitness space needs to go,” FitStar CEO Mike Maser said in a statement. “By combining forces, Fitbit and FitStar can collectively expand to offer users around the globe new, motivating ways to reach their health and fitness goals.”

FitStar added in a statement that with the addition of FitStar’s personalized streaming video workouts to Fitbit's offering, "users will find even more motivation through individually customized workout sessions".

In the past year, a number of big name companies have highlighted the FitStar app. In March 2014, Apple named FitStar as one of 15 “essential” health and fitness apps. Then, in September 2014, when Apple launched its HealthKit platform, FitStar was one of the first 16 apps to be featured in Apple’s HealthKit collection. FitStar Personal Trainer is currently listed in the Apple App Store as an “editor’s choice” app. 

Jawbone recently highlighted the app when it launched its new online marketplace last month. At launch, in the fitness section of the marketplace, users could get just four apps from Jawbone’s partners, one of which was FitStar Premium. This month, FitStar partnered with fitness apparel maker Gaiam to create “fit kits”, which are discounted packages that include an app subscription to FitStar as well as either yoga or workout gear from Gaiam.

While FitStar has received a significant amount of attention from Apple this year, Fitbit, which is one of the biggest names in the activity tracking space, had a strained relationship with Apple in 2014. A month after Apple launched the HealthKit platform, Fitbit disclosed on its customer feedback forum that the company had no current plans to integrate with HealthKit. Shortly afterwards, Apple dropped Fitbit from its online store.

This year, Fitbit has already made news a few times. At the beginning of January, Fitbit announced that its new heart rate sensing devices had begun shipping and are now available for purchase online. Later that month, Fitbit won the trademark infringement lawsuit case that UK-based Fitbug brought against it in March 2013.

Fitbit's devices are available in more than 30,000 North American retail stores and 45,000 stores around the globe -- the products are sold in 54 countries. Fitbit users are primarily based in the US, followed by UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and China. FitStar's app has seen more than 3 million downloads.

The Fitbit-FitStar acquisition follows on two much bigger digital fitness acquisitions earlier this year. Under Armour acquired MyFitnessPal for $475 million and Endomondo for $85 million.