Bluetooth tracking company Tile acquired for $205 million – Ars Technica
Tile, a company that pioneered consumer trackers, will be acquired by Life360, a company whose services help families keep tabs on one another’s safety.
The acquisition values Tile at $205 million and should be finalized in the first quarter of 2022. Tile’s current CEO, C.J. Prober, will remain at the helm and Tile will retain its own branding. (It is also expected to retain its employees.) Prober will join Life360’s board.
Life360 already has a widely used app that allows family members to track each other’s locations, be notified of accidents, and so on. By merging with Tile, Life360 can allow its users to track items and pets as well. This is in part because Life360 is a smartphone app for iOS and Android, but some physical objects—like your luggage or your dog—are better tracked by individual bits of hardware than by your smartphone, which you generally keep on your person.
The sale also gives Life360 access to the technology underlying the Tile Finding Network, whereby users with Tile’s smartphone app installed allow their phones to be used to locate nearby missing items for others. Life360 has 33 million smartphone users already, which will expand the reach of the Tile Finding Network by 10x, the company claims. Life360 will also gain access to 27,000 retail stores where Tile products are currently sold and to more than one million devices that include Tile tech.
Tile began with a crowdfunding campaign and was heralded as a revolutionary product when it was first unveiled; it has since gathered a lot of enthusiastic press coverage relative to the small size of its user base. But earlier this year, Apple introduced AirTag, a product that resembles Tile trackers but with additional technologies and the ability to leverage a network of more than one billion iOS users, making it much larger and thus more effective than the Tile Finding Network.
Tile has been vocally critical of Apple and has claimed that Apple engaged in anticompetitive behavior by making changes to iOS that advantage the tech giant’s own network, product, and services over Tile’s. This acquisition by Life360 gives Tile the funds and user base to stay afloat while it finds a way to beat (or at least to survive alongside) Apple in the locator-device game.
The acquisition press release from Life360 goes out of its way to note that the Life360/Tile network will be platform agnostic. Currently, Apple’s competing Find My network is only available on iOS, but Apple plans to bring some support to Android in the future.