Ina Fried

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Location Labs Unit Scoops Up Assets of Seeker Wireless

Location Labs has acquired the assets of Seeker Wireless, a company whose technology allows feature phones to provide the kind of advanced location services more typically found on smartphones.

Seeker’s technology will find its way into a newly created division of Location Labs, known as Safely, which will house the company’s privacy and safety products, including its family locator and safe-driving applications. While most of Location Labs’ products thus far have focused on smartphones and developed countries, Seeker has a technology that allows geofencing and other location-based applications using the SIM card found in even the most basic wireless phones.

Location Labs didn’t have to pay a bundle for the technology, either. The company acquired Seeker’s products and intellectual property for a figure of up to or just over $1 million, I’m told. That’s a far cry from the $27 million in venture funding that Seeker had raised.

With the acquisition, Location Labs is splitting itself into two units: Safely will focus on the use of geofencing and location technologies for consumer safety, while the main Location Labs unit will focus on the core technology as well as licensing the technology to businesses, primarily in the retail space.

It’s the third acquisition this year for the fast-growing and profitable Location Labs, which in October announced its purchase of Wirkle and Volly.

“We’re active in the market,” says CEO Tasso Roumeliotis. “We are looking to acquire companies.”

As for when Safely might have products incorporating Seeker’s technology, Roumeliotis said the goal is to have something ready by the end of next year.

“We’re digesting right now,” Roumeliotis said.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald