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Mars Petcare acquires startup Whistle, gaining `Fitbit for dogs'

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(Bloomberg) — Mars Petcare, the global leader in pet-food sales and subsidiary of candy bar maker Mars Inc., said it bought Whistle, a startup that makes smart dog collars to track a pet’s location and fitness.

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Mars didn’t disclose how much much it paid for Whistle, but people with knowledge of the matter said it was about $117 million. The Belgium-based company owns pet food brands, such as Pedigree and Iams, as well as Banfield, the world’s largest veterinary service with more than 800 pet hospitals.

“We are excited about the opportunity our investment will bring us to in this new area of pet care technology,” the company said in a statement.

The connected-collar allows Mars to collect pet-behavior data on a large scale, which could be useful when developing new pet products. The company also has relationships with many pet stores and grocery chains where the device could be sold.

“Pet behavior and health data could be more valuable in new product development than the actual accessories,” said Jitendra Waral, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “The hardware simply tends to get commoditized.”

Whistle, which has been called the “Fitbit for dogs,” is backed by DCM Ventures, where Whistle Chief Executive Officer Ben Jacobs served as an entrepreneur-in-residence. Nokia Growth Partners is another investor, along with basketball all-star Carmelo Anthony and rapper Nasir ‘Nas’ Jones, who each contributed early financing. TechCrunch earlier reported details of the acquisition on Thursday.

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