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As Jawbone Opens API for Up Health Tracker, It Is Also Seeking $100 Million in Additional Funding

It's a bid to create a platform and stay relevant in the increasingly competitive space.


San Francisco consumer electronics device maker Jawbone will announce this week that it will be opening up access to its Up app software that will allow it to be used on other smartphones, watches and wearables.

That includes the new health-focused wearable that Apple is expected to introduce this week, as well as Google Android Wear devices and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. It also means its software will be able to suck in data garnered from rival devices like Fitbit and render it on Jawbone’s app.

The move is obviously aimed at proliferating its software beyond its own Up band, trying to turn it into a platform. In addition, Jawbone will allow device makers to make their own products that communicate directly with the Up system via an open protocol, without being required to make a companion app.

Along with the efforts to keep its software relevant, according to sources, the company has also been completing the raising of additional funding — up to $100 million — as part of the $250 million round it had said it was raising earlier this year. New investors include Rizvi Traverse Management; the round values the company at upward of $3.3 billion.

Jawbone is clearly hoping that moving to an open system will increase the use of the app — which includes step-tracking and logging of food and sleep, as well as sharing with friends — and spur consumers to buy its own hardware.

Hardware is obviously a much more competitive and margin-crushing business than software, which is why there have been a number of rumors floating around Silicon Valley lately that the company would focus largely on its faster-growing health-related software unit and away from its wireless speaker and headset business. Some had also suggested it would spin off those two units.

When I inquired, a Jawbone spokesman said to me it is not so. And sources said that there is additional hardware coming from the company in the next six months.

There will be a lot of focus on the digital health tracker arena this week as Apple rolls out its own platform and device, which is expected to be announced tomorrow. Jawbone has been a strong partner of the tech giant, with its various devices and software featured prominently in Apple’s online and retail stores. But with its new offerings, Apple now becomes a significant competitors of all the health devices.

Thus, it will need the money it is raising. Jawbone’s last financial transaction was to garner over $100 million in debt and equity financing. Before that, it had raised more than $250 million in venture funding.

It has a strong list of investors, most of whom are expected to participate in the latest round, including Andreessen Horowitz, J.P. Morgan’s Digital Growth Fund, Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Its board is equally fancy, including VC Ben Horowitz, designer Yves Béhar and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.

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