Hardware firm Jawbone has raised $300m of new funding at a reported valuation of $3bn. Investment firm BlackRock provided the money, which comes as Jawbone moves into the mobile payments sector. It’s launching a wearable smart-band called the Jawbone Up4 in partnership with American Express, which will track steps and activity, but also be able to make contactless payments.
“We think we are now in a strong position with these devices,” Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman told Recode, despite imminent competition from Apple’s smartwatch – although Up4 is less of a smartwatch and more of a Fitbit-style fitness band. With $700m raised so far, Jawbone is also one of the best-funded companies in the digital music space. Music? Well, a year ago it emerged that Jawbone had acquired social radio app Playground.fm for an “over eight figures” sum (Bulletin, 1-Apr-14). Then in October the company – which makes the Jambox wireless speaker range – launched a mobile app called Drop to get friends creating collaborative party playlists via Spotify or Rdio (Bulletin, 23-Oct-14).