Jawbone as we knew it is no more. The tech company that produced Bluetooth earpieces and wireless speakers before betting everything on fitness tracking has entered into liquidation proceedings, according to a new report from The Information.
The Verge has independently confirmed that Jawbone has begun liquidation proceedings. However, a representative from Jawbone declined to comment.
Co-founder and chief executive Hosain Rahman has moved onto a new company, Jawbone Health Hub, that will primarily focus on health-related products and services. Many Jawbone employees have joined Rahman, who is acting CEO, at the new business, which The Information claims will service existing Jawbone products once the original company folds.
The news comes after more than a year of financial turmoil at the company, which led to deteriorating customer service, dwindling inventory, and key executive departures — all as the company entered into a legal battle with rival Fitbit.
Few details about the new entity are known. In recent weeks, Jawbone has posted multiple job openings that directly reference “Jawbone Health.” One posting on Glassdoor, for example, said that the new company “ingests a lot of data, whether it is heart rate, accelerometer readings, or other sensor readings” and described the role as one that validates data and generates reports and visualizations of health data.
Last year, The Verge reported that the company was attempting to pivot to some type of clinical health product, with plans to sell its technology to other businesses and not directly to consumers. In January, we noted that Jawbone had completely stopped offering customer support through its social media channels, angering many longtime customers who were still expecting updates to their Jawbone Bluetooth speakers and UP activity trackers.
On top of that, there are the company’s ongoing legal battles with rival Fitbit, which have ranged from trade secret lawsuits to patent infringement claims. Some of these legal proceedings are still ongoing, with Jawbone having retained three different sets of lawyers since late March, according to court filings.
Jawbone was not always a company on the brink, but its shift to health and fitness-tracking products in 2011 turned out to be an inopportune move. It first formed in 1999 as an audio technology company called AliphCom, and was initially focused on developing military-grade audio technology. Later on, it became widely known for its best-selling Bluetooth headsets and Jambox speaker line, which at one point was even called “America’s favorite Bluetooth speaker.”
But hardware is hard, as the saying goes, and not long after the company launched its UP health tracker in 2011, stories of product failures, production woes, financial struggles, and unpaid contractors began to emerge. Jawbone has raised a significant amount of capital, more than $900 million from a series of high-profile investors, and has listed some of tech’s top names as its board members.
Even that, it seems, couldn’t salvage a dying hardware company.
Update July 6th, 6:59PM ET: Included confirmation from separate sources that the report of Jawbone’s liquidation proceedings is accurate.