Boulder, Colorado-based robotics company Sphero has bought New York tech startup littleBits, creating a major force in STEM and coding toys for kids. The two companies have combined sales of more than US$500 million through the Sphero robots and littleBits kits.
The merged company will have offices in Boulder, New York and Hong Kong, with Sphero’s Paul Berberian serving as CEO. Meanwhile, littleBits’ CEO Ayah Bdeir will depart the combined entity.
A spokesperson declined to share any additional details on the merger, including price and whether there will lay offs, but Sphero said it plans on accelerating its international growth and acquire other products and companies to further expand its portfolio. WIth littleBits under its umbrella, Sphero will have a portfolio of more than 140 patents in robotics, electronics, software and the Internet of Things.
Both of companies are former Disney Accelerator participants that built businesses using Star Wars licensing. Sphero (a 2014 member of the Accelerator) is known for its BB8 and R2-D2 realistic droids, while littleBits (a 2016 Accelerator participant) put out a Droid Inventor Kit in 2017.
Since 2017, littleBits continued to work alongside Disney. As recently as April, the two teamed up to get 15,000 girls into STEM through a US$4-million pilot program.
Sphero, meanwhile, announced late last year that it wouldn’t renew its Disney licenses in 2019, opting instead to focus on interactive play and STEM learning. As Sphero has shifted its focus recently to education, the two already have a strong showing, reaching more than six million students and 65,000 teachers across 35,000 schools globally.