Fossil Buys Misfit Wearables, Acqui-Hires New CTO And Engineering Team

Fitness tracking devices were nothing new when Misfit Wearables was founded in 2011 by Sonny Vu, Sridhar Iyengar, and former Apple CEO John Sculley. But Misfit’s sleek metal design helped it compete with the plastic bracelets offered by rivals such as Fitbit.

The little round device, with its tiny lights, looked like an alien coin dropped from a departing spaceship.

Now Misfit is becoming part of a global fashion conglomerate that began by trading on its design savvy to market retro timepieces that evoked the past rather than the future. Fossil Group, founded in 1984, is acquiring the San Francisco wearables company for $260 million.

On top of its existing line of brand name wearables, Misfit is bringing Fossil a technology boost that will accelerate its expansion into an array of connected watches and other accessories, Fossil Group CEO Kosta Kartsotis said in an announcement of the acquisition Thursday. The plan is to blend the style of classic timepieces—as well as Fossil’s more fashion-forward watches—with the future of connectivity.

Misfit’s technology platform “has already solved many of the hardest problems in wearables, including battery life,” Fossil says. It has a scalable cloud and app platform, and a “world-class software and hardware engineering team.”

Sonny Vu (pictured above, center) was named chief technology officer of connected devices for Fossil Group.

Fossil plans to incorporate wearable technology into products made by some of its 16 fashion watch units, which include luxury brands such as Skagen and Watch Station as well as sportier names like Relic and Adidas. Fossil products are sold through a global network of distributors, e-commerce sites, and 600 company-operated stores.

With its new technology team, Fossil is contemplating new products that combine fashion with functions that touch on music, healthcare, fitness, and other digital activities.

Fossil (NASDAQ: FOSL) expects the Misfit deal to close by the end of the 2015 fiscal year, pending regulatory approval.

Bernadette Tansey is Xconomy's San Francisco Editor. You can reach her at btansey@xconomy.com. Follow @Tansey_Xconomy

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