Late last night, TechCrunch posted a story saying that Basis — the heart monitor wristwear company — was selling itself to Intel for $100 million. We suspect that the reality is a bit more complicated.
At Mobile World Congress last week, we heard and spoke to a bunch of high-ranking Intel execs. We had the opportunity to ask Intel president Renee James about upcoming Intel wearable products; she was quite clear that Intel is in the component business, not the consumer product business. We asked Hermann Eul, the VP and general manager of Intel’s mobile and communications group about any upcoming product-related partnerships; he gave a clear and declarative non-answer, which is about what you’d expect if you weren’t making any announcements.
Later in the conference, we sat down with Steven Holmes, the VP in charge of Intel’s wearables effort. He gave us no reason to believe that Intel had any consumer-oriented product plans.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time that corporate executives misdirected a reporter. But Intel really and truly hasn’t given any indication that it wants to do consumer products.
So why Basis (if, in fact, TechCrunch is right)? Maybe it’s to buy the technology and fast-track themselves into the sensor business. That at least makes strategic sense, although we wonder if $100 million isn’t a little rich.
But then what about the Basis wrist band itself? It seems unlikely that a purchaser would just kick that ongoing business to the curb. So maybe this is what will shake out: Intel buys Basis — maybe for as much as $100 million — and sells the wrist band business either to management/existing investors/new players for maybe $25 million. For $75 million, Intel walks away with what it really wants: the intellectual property.
We’ve reached out to Intel for comment, and will update this post when/if we get any. Update: An Intel spokeswoman says, “Thanks for reaching out and sharing the story. As you might imagine we don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”