Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Apple Aiming at PrimeSense Acquisition, but Deal Is Not Yet Done

Several sources confirm that Apple is in talks to buy 3-D sensing company PrimeSense, following a report in the Israeli publication Calcalist. However, those sources stressed that the deal is not yet done, and that its reported valuation would not represent a huge win for investors.

Calcalist put the value of the deal at $345 million. Sources said that talks are “close” to complete, but are hung up on end-game issues like liquidity preferences — in other words, who gets paid first. One also said the price could be slightly higher than reported, on the order of $20 million more.

Sources noted that the expected value of the deal would not be a big jump over where investors had recently valued the company, which was apparently at about $250 million.

One source with knowledge of the situation said it was “a bit of a letdown, but a decent outcome.” Another called it “the best that could happen, given the circumstances: A big strategic buyer at a decent price.”

But, again, while the deal is expected to close by the end of this week, it is not yet done.

PrimeSense was the original supplier for Microsoft’s breakthrough Kinect gaming device, which incorporated cameras and depth sensors so that players could control games with their gestures. But Microsoft used homegrown technology for the new Kinect that is part of Xbox One.

The original PrimeSense model was oriented around a large stationary sensor, but the company more recently released a smaller generation, dubbed Capri, better suited for mobile uses.

Motion sensing could be valuable for any number of actual and hypothetical Apple products, including wearable devices and televisions.

Apple declined comment, and PrimeSense offered a statement:

“PrimeSense is the leading 3D technology in the market. We are focused on building a prosperous company while bringing 3D sensing and Natural Interaction to the mass market in a variety of markets such as interactive living room and mobile devices. We do not comment on what any of our partners, customers or potential customers are doing and we do not relate to rumors or re-cycled rumors.”

Acording to published funding numbers, eight-year-old PrimeSense had raised relatively little money — but that’s not actually the case. Silver Lake had invested an undisclosed amount in PrimeSense in 2011. A source said the amount of the Silver Lake investment was $50 million, and that there had also been a large secondary sale of shares at the $250 million valuation.

Prior to that, the company had raised about $30 million from venture capitalists including Canaan Partners, Gemini Israel and Genesis Partners.

(Kara Swisher and John Paczkowski contributed to this report.)

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