Connected canine outfit Whistle buys competitor Tagg, raises $15M

When Whistle first came on the scene with in 2013 with its dog activity monitor, there was already an established player in the canine wearable market, Tagg the Pet Tracker. Well, that rivalry is no more. Whistle announced on Thursday that it has bought up Snaptracs the company that makes Tagg for an undisclosed amount and has raised $15 million in new funding.

The Series B round and the acquisition are actually closely tied as one of Snaptracs previous owners, [company]Qualcomm[/company], has reinvested in its new buyer, according to Whistle co-founder and CEO Ben Jacobs. [company]Nokia[/company] Venture Partners led the round with participation from Qualcomm and two celebrity-backed VCs: Melo7 Tech Partners, the investment vehicle of NBA star Carmelo Anthony, and QueensBridge Venture Partners, which was founded by hip hop icon Nas (Perhaps Melo and Nas are dog lovers). Whistle has now raised a total of $25 million.

Combined, Whistle and Tagg will have 100,000 connected dog collars in the market, Jacobs said, but they both target different applications. Tagg primarily has been a GPS and cellular tracking collar that will keep tabs on pets for a monthly subscription fee. Whistle meanwhile created a kind of Fitbit (see disclosure) for pooches, using accelerometers to monitor daily exercise and rest and charting those metrics on its smartphone apps.

Whistle's activity monitor

Whistle’s activity monitor

According to Jacobs, Whistle will keep both types of products in the market, but it plans to combine a lot of their features, drawing on Tagg’s expertise in making durable, low-power and innovative hardware. For instance, Tagg has developed ambient temperature sensors that can detect when your dog is overheated. Whistle, however, has developed the superior software platform and apps, Jacobs said.

Whistle has actually been experimenting with a GPS tracking device in San Francisco using a new test network built by SigFox in the Bay Area. While the startup plans to continue that work, Jacobs said, Tagg’s product line would allow Whistle to immediately offer its own commercial GPS collar across the country.

For current Tagg users there will be no interruption of service, Jacobs said, and Whistle will continue selling Snaptracs most recent product the Tagg GPS Plus online.

Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.