Asics buys Runkeeper as sports apps and equipment continue to merge

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[Updated 2/12/16, 3:32 p.m., to include deal price and details from Asics’s press release.] Japanese shoemaker Asics has just acquired one of Boston’s best-known consumer tech companies, Runkeeper, for $ 85 million, as the virtual and physical worlds continue to collide in athletics.

Runkeeper co-founder and CEO Jason Jacobs announced the acquisition in a Medium blog post early Friday morning. Reached by email, Jacobs declined to discuss the structure of the deal, but this is likely a good outcome for investors and the company’s team, given that it had raised around 11 , $ 5 million in venture capital.

When Runkeeper’s parent company, FitnessKeeper, launched in 2008, its app was one of the first tools for users to track runs and other types of workouts, plot routes, and share runners’ accomplishments. fitness with their friends. The company claims to have attracted over 45 million users, which is no small feat for a mainstream app. (The challenge, as always, was how to make money.)

Along the way, Runkeeper has partnered with companies like Pebble and other wearable device makers to integrate the app into their physical products. Runkeeper has also started to take an interest in clothing recently, launching a website to sell his own line of clothing and other accessories. But the company’s path has sometimes been strewn with pitfalls: it cut 16 employees, or about 30% of its staff, last August.

By joining Asics, Runkeeper has access to more resources to continue to evolve their product, and the move opens up new ways to engage with consumers, Jacobs said. Asics, meanwhile, already offers an online fitness tracking and training program for runners, but it clearly sees Runkeeper as a way to bolster its mobile presence. Asics also said it plans to use the Runkeeper app to “establish a personalized marketing channel using user data.” [Previous sentence added from the Asics release—Eds.]

“When we look to the future, it seems clear that the fitness brands of the future will not only make physical products, but will be integrated into the consumer journey in ways that help people stay motivated and maximize their enjoyment of the gym. sport, ”Jacobs wrote in his blog post. “By bringing these two pieces together (digital fitness platform and world-class physical products), you can create a new kind of fitness brand that has a deeper and more trusted relationship with consumers and can interact with them in ways. more personalized. Partnering with Asics to achieve this vision together makes a lot of sense. “

Other big shoe and sportswear companies have the same theory. Last year, Under Armor bought the fitness tracker apps Endomondo and MyFitnessPal, while Adidas bought Runtastic.

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