If you still think that tech valuations will always grow the sky, you need to start paying attention. Troubled tracker/speaker/headset maker Jawbone just raised $165 million at a valuation about half its previous round. At the same time, the company confirmed that its president, Sameer Samat, was returning to Google.
The new funding round valued the company at $1.5 billion. Re/code reports that the money comes from the Kuwait Investment Authority. At least this time, the money was in equity, not debt.
Samat had been at Jawbone only since May, running product development and management, business development, software, and product experience. That’s a large brief, all the more at a company as unfocused as Jawbone has been. In such a short time, it’s unlikely that his impact has been felt on anything that’s yet reached store shelves. He’s returning to Google, where he will be a senior player in the Google Play organization.
Jawbone has come under criticism over the last year for a lack of focus in businesses that are driving toward commoditization. It withstood a round of layoffs a couple of months ago, and its UP3 tracker was significantly delayed. Before it had even shipped, Jawbone announced the UP4 — nearly identical except for the addition of an NFC chip that works only with American Express cards.