Tile, a company that pioneered consumer trackers, is being acquired by Life360, a company whose services help families keep track of each other’s safety.
The acquisition valued Tile at $ 205 million and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022. Tile’s current CEO, CJ Prober, will keep the helm and Tile will keep its own branding. (It is also expected to keep its employees.) Prober will join the Life360 board of directors.
Life360 already has a widely used app that allows family members to track each other’s location, be notified of accidents, etc. By merging with Tile, Life360 can also enable its users to track items and pets. This is partly because Life360 is a smartphone app for iOS and Android, but some physical objects – like your luggage or dog – are tracked better by individual pieces of hardware than your smartphone, which you usually keep with you.
The sale also gives Life360 access to the technology underlying the Tile Finding Network, which allows users with Tile’s smartphone app installed to use their phones to find missing items nearby for others to use. Life360 already has 33 million smartphone users, which will increase the reach of the Tile Finding Network ten times, the company claims. Life360 will also have access to 27,000 retail stores that currently sell Tile products and more than one million devices that contain Tile technology.
Tile began with a crowdfunding campaign and was heralded as a revolutionary product when it was first launched. it has since garnered much enthusiastic press coverage relative to the small size of its user base. But earlier this year Apple unveiled AirTag, a product similar to tile trackers but with additional technology and the ability to use a network of more than a billion iOS users, making it much larger and therefore more effective than tile finding Network makes.
Tile has come out loudly critical of Apple, claiming that Apple has committed anti-competitive behavior by making changes to iOS that use the technology giant’s own network, products and services over Tile’s. This Life360 acquisition gives Tile the means and user base to stay afloat as it finds a way to beat Apple (or at least survive on the side) in the tracking game.
The press release on the acquisition of Life360 states that the Life360 / Tile network will be platform independent. Currently, Apple’s competing Find My network is only available for iOS, but Apple plans to add some support for Android in the future.