Google is considering strategic investment in Jawbone, although discussions are in preliminary stages, according to a report from Re/Code.
Update: According to a report from Fortune, BlackRock is considering investing as much as $300 million in Jawbone. Fortune added that its sources said Google is not actively considering an investment.
Re/Code adds Google and Jawbone have not agreed on the size of investment or valuation and that the discussions are so early that there may be no investment. What the report does make clear is that Google is not planning to acquire Jawbone.
Jawbone last raised money in September 2013 when the company racked up $93 million in debt. The company also raised an additional rumored $20 million in equity from Silver Lake, Fortress Investment Group, JP Morgan, and Wells Fargo. That raise brought Jawbone's total equity funding to over $220 million. Existing Jawbone investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures, and Sequoia Capital.
Jawbone has also had at least one funding-related hurdle in the past year in addition to a device manufacturing misstep.
In early 2014, Jawbone was expecting to raise $250 million from investors affiliated with Rizvi Traverse, but according to a report from Fortune, this investment came up short, forcing Jawbone to “scramble yet again to raise new funds”. Later that year, Jawbone’s contract manufacturer, Flextronics, sued the company because Jawbone’s “perilous” financial position prevented the company from paying its $20 million tab. The suit settled quietly soon after.
Finally, at the very end of 2014, Jawbone announced that its UP3 would not ship by year-end as previously promised. The device suffered from a “sealing” problem. The company gave customers who had preordered it a $40 discount. The UP3 still has not shipped.
In the past year, Google started using activity trackers, like Jawbone, in its health-related research projects, which might be one reason Google might be interested in making a strategic investment in the company.
Last month, Google X, Google’s business unit for long-term “moonshot” projects, partnered with Biogen Idec to study outside factors that might contribute to the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). Google and Biogen will use sensors, software, and data analysis tools to collect and analyze data from people who have MS. The companies aim to explore why MS progresses differently in each patient.
And in July 2014, Google announced that it would launch the Google Baseline study, which will use a combination of genetic testing and digital health sensors to collect “baseline” data on healthy people. The idea is to establish genetic biomarkers relating to “how [patients] metabolize food, nutrients and drugs, how fast their hearts beat under stress and how chemical reactions change the behavior of their genes.”