Tile, a company that pioneered consumer tracking, is being acquired by Life360, a company whose services help families monitor each other’s safety.
The acquisition values Tile at $205 million and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022. Tile’s current CEO, CJ Prober, will remain at the helm and Tile will retain its own brand name. (It is also expected to retain its employees.) Prober will join the board of Life360.
Life360 already has a widely used app that allows family members to track each other’s locations, be notified of accidents, and more. Merging with Tile will also allow Life360 to let its users 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 your dog, are better tracked by individual pieces of hardware than by your smartphone, which you generally keep with you.
The sale also gives Life360 access to the technology underpinning the Tile Finding Network, where users with Tile’s smartphone app installed can use their phones to find nearby missing items for others. Life360 already has 33 million smartphone users, which will increase the reach of the Tile Finding Network by 10x, the company claims. Life360 also gains access to 27,000 stores where Tile products are currently sold and more than one million devices with Tile technology.
Tile began a crowdfunding campaign and was heralded as a revolutionary product when it was first unveiled; it has since garnered a lot of enthusiastic press attention relative to the small size of its user base. But earlier this year, Apple introduced AirTag, a product similar to Tile trackers but with additional technologies and the ability to tap into a network of more than a billion iOS users, making it much larger and thus more effective than the Tile Finding Network.
Tile was vocally critical of Apple, claiming that Apple engaged in anti-competitive behavior by making changes to iOS that favored the tech giant’s own network, product and services over Tile’s. This acquisition by Life360 gives Tile the money and user base to stay afloat while finding a way to beat Apple (or at least survive next to) in the locator-device game.
The press release regarding the Life360 acquisition goes to great lengths to note that the Life360/Tile network will be cross-platform. Currently, Apple’s competing Find My network is only available on iOS, but Apple plans to include some support for Android in the future.