Jawbone in talks with BlackRock for a big investment



Jawbone Inc., the maker of wearable fitness trackers, is the discussions to raise about $300 million in financing from investors including BlackRock Inc., report suggests.

The San-Francisco based company, founded in 1999, whose monochrome UP bands synch wirelessly with health apps to give personalized fitness advice, has been trying to raise $250 million for the past year. Its current backers and directors are top-shelf Silicon Valley: Andreesen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital, Silver Lake Partners and others. Yahoo CEO Marissa sits on the board.

However, hardware glitches have delayed shipment of its UP3 band, blunting its competitive edge against larger rival Fitbit. Plus, it’s yet to turn a profit as it matures into its 16th year- a lifetime for a Silicon Vallet Company, a report in Fortune noted last month.

At the same time, competition in the wearable-technology industry is gaining pace, with Google Inc. and Apple Inc. developing wearable products and technology. Apple is planning to unveil its smartwatch on March 9. The Apple Watch, with a rectangular touch-screen face, includes sensors to detect pulse rates and other health-related features and must be paired with an iPhone to work properly.

Google has pushed the reset button on its big venture into wearables, Google Glass. The expected popularity of wearable electronics has increased speculation Google could buy into the market, just as it did with the Internet of Things space when it bought smart thermometer-maker Nest. Jawbone has been increasingly stressing its data platform, which draws on the daily routines of its hundreds of thousands of users to isolate patterns; that information ocean would seem appealing to the info maws of Google.

Jawbone spokesman Jim Godrey said the company had no comment on the reports. A Google representative did not respond to a request for comment.