Jawbone Laying Off 15% of Workforce

The wearable devices maker has been facing stiff competition in a fitness tracker market dominated by Fitbit and Xiaomi.
Katie Kuehner-HebertNovember 20, 2015

Wearable devices maker Jawbone is laying off around 60 employees, or 15% of staff, and closing its New York office to streamline operations.

Jawbone has been lagging well behind Fitbit and Apple in the wearables market. With sales of its UP fitness trackers reaching just over half a million in the second quarter, it had a wearables market share of only 2.8%, according to the latest data from IDC.

“As part of our strategy to create a more streamlined and successful company, we have made the difficult decision to reorganize the company which has had an impact on our global workforce,” a Jawbone spokesman told TechCrunch. “We are sad to see colleagues go, but we know that these changes, while difficult for those impacted, will set us up for greater success.”

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The San Francisco company also plans to downsize satellite operations in Sunnyvale and Pittsburgh. In June, it laid off 20 workers just weeks after it raised $300 million in the form of a convertible loan from BlackRock.

Jawbone has been increasingly focusing its R&D and marketing on its UP fitness trackers. But that market is currently dominated by Fitbit and Xiaomi.

Fitbit “will continue to be the dominant player there for some time,” Ben Bajarin of market intelligence firm Creative Strategies said, noting that Jawbone has less than 6% of the fitness tracker market, according to his figures.

Ars Technica said some Jawbone customers “were not happy about the lack of functionality in the UP3 band — at launch, its heart rate monitor only measured resting heart rate.” The UP feature set is “still lacking when compared to devices like the Fitbit Charge HR that can measure rising and falling pulse rates during vigorous exercise as well.”

But Jawbone got a boost from Oprah, who named the UP3 one of her yearly “favorite things,” a title that “usually results in a sales spike,” Ars Technica said.

The company also has a new CFO, Jason Child, who joined from Groupon, and a new president, Sameer Samat, who joined from Google.