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Smart ring startup Motiv is being acquired by Proxy and is shifting its focus to enterprise tech, following a turbulent few months at the company

Motiv ring

  • Smart ring maker Motiv announced it is being acquired by Proxy, which makes keyless office systems, in a shift to the enterprise market.
  • Proxy says it will kill the Motiv brand and intends to build products for businesses by integrating its technology into Motiv's hardware. But it also plans to move away from health and fitness.
  • The announcement comes after several turbulent months inside the startup, with leadership clashing over the direction of the company and several employees jumping ship.
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Motiv, the startup behind the activity tracking smart ring, has announced it is being acquired by access security company Proxy and shifting its attention to the enterprise market.

Proxy, which builds keyless smartphone entry systems for businesses, says it will acquire all parts of Motiv, including some employees. But Proxy also said it intends to kill the Motiv name and integrate its own smart signal technology into Motiv's hardware for a product to be used by businesses.

Motiv has been suspiciously quiet for many months. At CES 2019, the company announced some new features and products were in the pipeline, including NFC payments, but the developments never came to fruition. Over the course of 2019, users reported that Motiv was taking longer to respond to complaints and queries, and several months ago stopped taking orders on its website entirely.

For the past two years the company has been steered by Tejash Unadkat, who had previously managed partnerships at smart home company August. Unadkat joined Motiv as its new CEO in January 2018, allowing cofounders Mike and Eric Strasser to assume other executive positions.

An employee who was aware of the search for a new leader quoted one executive as saying they were "looking for the Tony Fadell of CEOs" to sell Motiv to the healthcare market.

But sources say that over the course of 2018, executives within the company clashed over ideas of how Motiv should move forward, with increasing pressure from the board to grow faster than it was, as well as heated competition from Oura, Silicon Valley's "other" smart ring darling. 

One former employee, who asked not to be identified, described the company's board as "trying to make a unicorn out of a startup that has to jump through certain hoops first." 

A mutual investor connected Motiv and Proxy, and the idea came about to integrate Proxy's technology into the ring.  Several employees, including some executives, departed the company over the course of 2018 and 2019 as it became clear that the company would move away from health and in a more enterprise-focused direction.

Eventually, a complete acquisition was agreed upon. The exact price of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Motiv says it has shipped around 80,000 rings since launch, though the company wouldn't disclose current active users. Its smart ring tracks users' heart rate, as well as their sleep, and is designed to be worn 24/7.

Proxy will absorb most of Motiv's manufacturing team, which are based in Taiwan, and keeping on some executives in an advisory role. 

Proxy, which emerged from stealth in 2019, builds keyless entry systems for offices using Bluetooth Low Energy signals. In March it announced it had raised $42 million in a Series B round of funding, and now intends to replicate the technology it uses in smartphones in a smart ring.

Proxy's long-term vision is to build a ring for consumers that will use bio-authentication to do everything from unlocking doors to loading up your personal Netflix profile when you walk near the TV, but the company admits all that is still a ways off. "For the short term I think the first few things we put out there will be direct to businesses and enterprises," Proxy CEO Denis Mars told Business Insider. "And from there the use cases for semi-consumers."

Mars told Business Insider that existing Motiv users will be supported for "some time" but couldn't guarantee how long. He said the company intends to roll out some new features to those users too, but wouldn't elaborate on what those might look like. In light of the acquisition, users will also be given the option to wipe their health data from Motiv's servers, should they not want to keep using the product.

Any customers waiting to receive orders or replacements of a Motiv ring will have the option to cancel their orders. "The Motiv support team will be communicating this to their customers," said Mars.

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* This article was originally published here Press Release Distribution

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