Nokia closed the books on its ill-fated foray into digital health devices and services, and with it, a company marks its return to the world of startups. Today, the Finnish telecom giant has announced the closing of the sale of its digital health division, with 200 employees, Eric Carreel, former president and co-founder of Withings. Today, Carreel plans to revive activity under the Withings brand by the end of this year, with products focused on preventative health.
Withings had formed the core of Nokia's digital health business after acquiring the company, famous for its smart scales, in 2016 for 170 million euros. Nokia has renamed the Nokia Digital Health company.
"I'm delighted to start working with the brilliant teams that made the brand so successful," Carreel said in a statement. "We have an exciting challenge ahead of us as we continue to push the boundaries of connected health."
The transaction comes less than a month after Nokia announced that it had entered into exclusive negotiations with Carreel for sale, as part of a larger reorganization within the company. Business to focus on unprofitable activities.
There was no financial condition revealed in the sale, nor any details on how the new Withings will be financed. (We ask.) In its previous incarnation as a startup before its release on Nokia, Withings had raised just under $ 34 million with investors such as Bpifrance, Ininvest and Ventech as of 2008. The new start-up will be based in Paris also in the United States and Asia.
In addition to news about Withings, there are also executive changes at Nokia.
Gregory Lee – who joined the Nokia Technologies division in part to restructure the business by setting up unprofitable operations such as digital health – is now leaving the company. Maria Varsellona, who is the legal director of the company, will also be the president of Nokia Technologies.
This change makes sense (discouraging): Nokia has a long list of patents from its long history, which has helped to forge and lead for a long time the mobile phone industry. While Nokia's mobile phone business has finally collapsed, dramatically enough, it has retained a number of patents, and has added to this in recent years. And that 's why it' s not surprising that Nokia 's legal department is also at the head of its Technologies division: it shows where today' s business priorities lie. Top of the page top of the page
Back at Withings, in addition to the connected scales, the company now manufactures business monitoring watches, blood pressure monitors, a smart thermometer and a sleep tracking pad that works. with an app called Health Mate. The focus on preventive health seems to want to keep all these elements in place.
The history of hardware startups is one of the many optimistic and often exciting ideas, but also many failures, while the realities of supply chain development are in the process to materialize, to find economies of scale and of course to find customers new brilliant gadgets. Withings is a way out of the initial difficulty of simply designing, working, manufacturing and bringing products to the market, but it will still have to deal with the maintenance and growth of the company – challenges that Nokia could not cross.
One thing in its favor is the rise of AI and the general expansion of opportunities that come with all the data that can now be collected. Putting aside glitches like Theranos, a number of startups – like Ava, which focuses on women's health – have explored not only the type of data that they can collect from wearables and other things. other devices, but also to "read" with a new understanding of the pathology of disease and health, to have more information about us and about how we work.
That seems to be the direction in which Withings is hoping to go too.
"We are just beginning to discover what connected health can really bring to people," Carreel said in a statement. "From now on, we must focus our efforts on developing tools capable of advanced metrics and associated services that can help prevent chronic health problems." Today's technologies we Imagine solutions that have the potential to benefit the lives of millions of people, and our ambition is to make sure that Withings lead the way with advances in technology and intuitive designs. "