Powermat Technologies, the Israeli wireless-power startup, took a major strategic step on Tuesday, agreeing to buy its Finnish rival PowerKiss for a price estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
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The acquisition, whose purchase price was not officially revealed but involves a mix of cash and shares, brings the Israeli company a major presence in the European market. PowerKiss's Helsinki headquarters will become the operations center for Powermat, which until now has been focused on the U.S. market.
The merged company will employ about 100 people.
Wireless-power devices sit on tabletops and let the user charge up smart phones or other portable gadgets without the inconvenience of cables and power sockets. As increasingly sophisticated smart phones run down their batteries faster than ever, companies like the global coffee chain Starbucks and New York's Madison Square Garden have begun offering wireless charging stations as a service to customers.
For the wireless-power industry and for users, the merger will settle the issue of conflicting standards. Until about two months ago, the two companies had backed incompatible standards, with PowerKiss using the Qi standard. The combined company will use the Power Matters Alliance, or PMA, standard that Powermat has been using.
"Uniting forces behind a common standard ensures that consumers will be able to avail themselves of the widest possible ecosystem of public places where they can recharge, Powermat CEO Ran Poliakine said. Very soon consumers will be able to access wireless power seamlessly as they move between home, office, coffee shop, car and airport.
He said the merger would enable Powermat to build a global business, with a combined 2,500 installations to date.
PowerKiss was formed by a group of ex-Nokia engineers in 2008, and the company launched its first product two years later. It employs some 20 people and has some 1,000 installations across Europe, winning a recent contract to install its charging spots at McDonalds' branches in 10 European countries.
Powermat, which was founded in 2006 and is based Neveh Ilan, has deployed more than 1,500 charging spots in the United States in places such as airports, coffee shops, malls and sports arenas. In a joint venture with the battery maker Duracell in January 2012, they now sell a device for use at home.
Powermat has raised some $80 million, half in the past year, at a company valuation of $330 million. In that fundraising round, Goldman Sachs put in $30 million and Leumi Partners put in $10 million.