Liz Gannes

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Misfit Wearables Raises $15.2M on Back of Shine, Even as Founder Dismisses Activity Trackers

Misfit Wearables, maker of the Shine wearable activity tracker, has raised $15.2 million in Series B funding.

The round was led by Li Ka-Shing’s Horizon Ventures and included previous backers Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, OATV, Max Levchin and IncTank.

Shine is a pendant-like activity tracker that can be worn on the wrist or neck, or magnetically clasped to clothing. It’s distinguished from the competition by its water resistance and its relatively long battery life of three to four months. Shine also got an Android app this week, after first shipping with an iOS app in July 2013.

But Misfit isn’t meant to be all about just activity trackers, according to founder and CEO Sonny Vu. The Shine has so far been unexpectedly successful, but Misfit wants to develop additional wearable devices that break out from the pack a bit more.

In fact, Vu was frankly dismissive of the long-term viability of activity trackers in an interview Tuesday. “Activity trackers will go the way of MP3 players and GPS units,” he said. “Now they are all conflated into smartphones.”

But that doesn’t mean Shine isn’t a pretty good business for the moment. Misfit is on track to ship 200,000 devices by the end of the year, Vu said, and the Shine has really been widely available for only four months. Enthusiasm was high from the very beginning; the Indiegogo campaign for the device about a year ago hit its goal of $100,000 less than 10 hours after it launched, and ended up raising nearly $850,000.

And even if it eventually falls by the wayside with other activity trackers, Vu contended that the Shine’s battery life and emphasis on fashion will help it outlast the competition.

Beyond the basic feature of what Vu called “wearable sensing” — a.k.a. telling people about their own habits and activities — the Misfit CEO said he sees broader opportunities around wearable feedback (waking people up gently, or alerting them to something), wearable identity and payments technology, and wearable controls and gaming. “We dream of making a wearable computing product that you can build software and services around,” he said.

Vu said Misfit has other such devices under development, and they are supposed be released in summer or fall of 2014. “We were going to release them sooner,” he said, “but Shine is killing it.”

The company had previously raised $7.6 million in April 2012 before it turned its attention to activity tracking, Vu noted.

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