By Stephen Nellis
(Reuters) – Tile Inc, a maker of tracking tags that was a vocal critic of Apple Inc, has been acquired by Life360, a location-sharing app maker.
The deal was valued at $205 million after Tile had raised $141 million in venture capital since its founding in 2012, a return of just 1.45 times invested capital.
Apple once carried Tile’s tracking tags in Apple Stores. But in testimony before U.S. lawmakers last year, Tile executives said Apple began to distance itself from the startup company because it was readying its own tracking tag product.
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Tile executives said Apple implemented technical changes that made it harder to pair its products with iPhones.
The rival Apple product – $30 AirTags, tiny devices meant to be attached to keys or other valuables – is more seamless for iPhone owners to use than third-party devices like Tile unless the third-party companies use special tools provided by Apple.
Apple says those tools are designed to protect the privacy of its users by preventing third-party tracking tag companies from amassing data on users.
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Tile said that using Apple’s tools would prevent it from having its own app and make its business model infeasible.
Tile still makes tags that work with both Apple and non-Apple devices, although they have less functionality than AirTags when used with iPhones because of Apple’s rules.
Under the deal Monday, the companies said that Tile will continue under its own brand identity under the leadership of Tile CEO CJ Prober, who will also join the Life360 board of directors. The two companies said Tile’s team of employees is expected to remain in place.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; editing by Richard Pullin)