After Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia acquires connected health startup Withings for €170 Million

Apr 26, 2016
Vote on Hacker News

withings3

Almost one year to the date since their acquisition of France’s Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia announced today that it will pay €170 million to acquire Paris-based Withings.

Nokia is seeking a major role in the burgeoning Internet of Things space, and has been making acquisitions in order to put that in place. The Finnish company has been looking for different ways into the consumer market since it sold its mobile phone division to Microsoft several years ago (an acquisition which Microsoft wrote off for $7.6 Billion this past year).

“We have said consistently that digital health was an area of strategic interest to Nokia, and we are now taking concrete action to tap the opportunity in this large and important market,” said Rajeev Suri, president and CEO of Nokia, in a statement. “With this acquisition, Nokia is strengthening its position in the Internet of Things in a way that leverages the power of our trusted brand, fits with our company purpose of expanding the human possibilities of the connected world, and puts us at the heart of a very large addressable market where we can make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives.”

As is often the case, news of the Withings deal will likely be seen as a mixed blessing for the French Tech ecosystem.

On one hand, the deal for Withings is one of the larger exits for a French Tech company in recent years. Back in 2013, Adobe paid about €530 million for France’s Neolane. But in general, critics have pointed to the lack of sizable exits as one of the French tech economy’s weaknesses.

Still, it’s bound to disappoint some who would like to see France produce large, independent tech successes.  The company was founded in 2008 by chairman Eric Carreel and CEO Cedric Hutchings. The company has 200 employees around the world and a broad portfolio of products that include activity trackers, weighing scales, thermometers, blood pressure monitors, home and baby monitors and more.

“Since we started Withings, our passion has been in empowering people to track their lifestyle and improve their health and wellbeing,” said Hutchings said in a statement. “We’re excited to join Nokia to help bring our vision of connected health to more people around the world.”

In any case, the news underscores the increasing awareness that France has a central role to play in Europe’s hardware ecosystem.

A European funding report put out by Tech.eu earlier this year confirmed that France was the only country in Europe for which hardware investments were among the top category of investments across the country (by capital invested).

The exit for Withings, whose consumer IoT products have been regulars on The Verge as well as showstoppers at CES, means that Withings will get access to greater capital, network and resources to deploy its vision for connected health, while Nokia will get a major player (and one of the most popular connected products sold by Apple).

Both Withings and Nokia will be joining us on stage at Connected Conference in just one month, speaking to 3,000 hardware & industrial professionals from 50 countries about the convergence of Industry & Internet. What better way to sum up that convergence than with Nokia’s acquisition of Withings