Dog Fitness Tracker Raises $25 Million: Blame Google - InformationWeek

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1/30/2015
03:50 PM
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Dog Fitness Tracker Raises $25 Million: Blame Google

As the tech market scrambles for the Next Big Thing, VCs are betting on nervous executives with deep pockets.

Drones, Phones & More: What Tech Will Last A Century?
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Forbes reported recently that Whistle, a startup which makes activity trackers for dogs (think FitBit for Fido), raised $15 million in a series B round of venture investment. That $15 million comes on top of a $10 million A round, for a total of $25 million.

How, I thought, could sharp-eyed investors expect to get any kind of return on a product that is patently useless? Do these investors really think there are hundreds of thousands of people stupid enough to drop $100 on a dog fitness tracker?

And then I got it. The investors aren’t betting on the stupidity of large numbers of Americans. They’re betting on the fear and anxiety of a small number of CEOs and corporate board members.

(Image: Krista Sanders for Whistle)

(Image: Krista Sanders for Whistle)

Big tech companies watch as Apple rakes in obscene amounts of money every quarter from its phone and tablet sales. Given that these two markets are essentially locked up, companies that aren’t Apple are desperately scanning the horizon for the Next Big Thing — a new gadget that captures hearts and wallets by the billions.

What is the Next Big Thing? We don’t know. No one knows. It could be pet wearables. Or exploding kittens.

[ Whistle isn't the only company making a play for pet wearables. Read 7 Cool Wearables For Pets. ]

What we do know is that it’s out there—somewhere. We also know that when it appears, it’s going to seem like a perfectly obvious idea, and it’s going to make someone an obscene amount of money.

So companies are making bets, and one area where they’re betting big is the Internet of Things, or IoT. I blame Google for this.

When the search giant spent $3.2 billion on Nest, a thermostat and smoke detector company, it was a signal to the venture community. The signal said, “We don’t want to miss the next Golden Ticket, so we’ll throw gobs of money at things that have sensors and an app.”

Thus, VCs, can risk floating a few tens of millions to startups hawking ridiculous IoT products. The startups don’t need a sensible business plan. They don’t need to capture a large market share. They don’t need to create a viable business.

That’s because VCs aren’t worried about selling this stuff to consumers. That’s not who the VCs are targeting. They’re targeting anxious CEOs and sweaty board members at big tech companies who are panicked about getting disrupted or missing the next boat.

That’s a much easier sell. And the VCs don’t need a billion-dollar exit to make a tidy profit. A few hundred million from a tech company hedging its bets will do just nicely. Woof.

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Drew is formerly editor of Network Computing and currently director of content and community for Interop. View Full Bio
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shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:51:41 PM
Re: now a cat wearable would be different...
@shakeeb I like your idea. But will the cat be able to understand that signal. 
shamika
50%
50%
shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:49:44 PM
Re: I love my dog
@drew. This seems to be interesting. What is the method you use in order to track that, since you have mentioned there is no cost involved, it should not be a device. Would you like to share your thoughts? 
shamika
IW Pick
100%
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:46:40 PM
Re: Voyce
"Translate dog thoughts into human language" I am so fascinated about this. I would definitely like to have one for my dog. Then I will be able to serve him much better.
shamika
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50%
shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:43:54 PM
Voyce
"Voyce can help you identify common medical conditions such as heart disease and respiratory problems" This is interesting. I think this will help us to keep them healthy and to easily understand their medical condition.
shamika
50%
50%
shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:40:05 PM
Re: now a cat wearable would be different...
I agree with you. Most of the people specially "Dogs" are considered as a part of their life. Therefore I think this is a good initiative.
shakeeb
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50%
shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 7:56:40 PM
Re: now a cat wearable would be different...
@mak63 – Is Tagg small in size because pets like it small else they try to remove it from their paw. 
shakeeb
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50%
shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 7:53:22 PM
Re: the best of the times and the worst of the times!
@nasimson – Do you mean to say we are not looking at what is really required at the moment? 
shakeeb
50%
50%
shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 7:51:36 PM
Re: I love my dog
@Drew – I think people like it to be tracked automatically than keeping record of it manually daily. That's one good reason to buy one of these products. 
shakeeb
50%
50%
shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 7:49:26 PM
Re: now a cat wearable would be different...
@Pedro- I think that a good idea as we don't see much companies coming up with this concept, but soon we will see competition. 
shakeeb
50%
50%
shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 7:47:40 PM
Re: now a cat wearable would be different...
@vnewman2- I have to agree with you on this "People love their dogs". Most of them treat their pets as part of the family and they always take care of them. 
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