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Apple Acquires Device Management Startup Fleetsmith

Fleetsmith, which is focused exclusively on Apple devices, has competed with vendors including Jamf and Addigy.

Apple has acquired Fleetsmith, a startup specializing in Apple device management solutions, according to a blog from Fleetsmith.

The San Francisco-based startup competes with several other companies that have developed device management software exclusively for Apple devices, including Jamf, Addigy and Mosyle. Jamf, the largest player in the space, reportedly made a confidential filing in January for a planned initial public offering.

[Related: Apple's Business Boom: 5 Takeaways From JNUC 2019]

In its blog post Wednesday, Fleetsmith's founders said that the company's products will continue to be made available to new and existing customers under Apple ownership.

"We’re thrilled to join Apple," the founders--Zack Blum, Jesse Endahl and Kenneth Kouot--said in the post.

The founders pointed to Fleetsmith’s "shared values" with Apple “of putting the customer at the center of everything we do without sacrificing privacy and security.”

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Fleetsmith did not disclose the terms of the acquisition.

Fleetsmith was founded in 2016 and had raised at least $40 million in funding, including a $30 million Series B round in April 2019 that was led by Menlo Ventures.

The startup says that its software provides automation of device setup, intelligence, patching and security for Apple devices--across Mac, iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

"I would assume Apple would merge this into the Apple Business Manager platform to perhaps provide a simple and easy-to-use device management functionality out of the box. They could also add this to their school offering," said one executive at a solution provider partner of Apple, who asked to not be identified. "With the new announcements this week out of WWDC, Mac management is becoming just as simple to use and understand as iOS. So these tools would cater to all Apple hardware."

The acquisition of Fleetsmith also comes amid close ties for Apple with other Apple-focused device management vendors including Jamf. Thanks to Jamf's "very close partnership" with Apple, "we get the support that we need, and we feel like we can provide a better solution in working with Apple," Jamf CEO Dean Hager said in an interview with CRN in November.

Jamf will most likely not be pleased with Apple's Fleetsmith acquisition, since "the low-end Jamf Now product and Jamf's school offering could be targets," the solution provider executive said.

"I believe Addigy and Mosyle have much more features and technology than Fleetsmith, so they're not on the same playing field in my mind," the executive said. "The larger MDM competitors -- like VMware, MobileIron, IBM, Microsoft -- won't feel any pressure I believe. They all support more than just Apple devices."

In January--prior to the market upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic--Bloomberg reported that Jamf is seeking a valuation of about $3 billion in connection with an IPO, which was said to be possible as soon as this year. Jamf's revenue reached about $220 million last year, according to the report.

Jamf declined to comment on Apple’s acquisition of Fleetsmith when reached on Wednesday.

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