Best Buy Continues Senior Tech Push with $800M GreatCall Acquisition

Making moves to become a larger force in aging-in-place technology, retail giant Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) has agreed to acquire GreatCall for $800 million in cash. GreatCall has developed and sells senior-friendly smartphones, smartwatches, medical alert devices and other technology to support and extend older adults’ independence.

“[Best Buy] has recently been investing in health-related initiatives focused on the aging population that have included the participation of several of the nation’s leading health care providers and insurers,” the company stated in a press release issued Wednesday. “The acquisition of GreatCall will augment Best Buy’s existing efforts in the health space, help bring compelling solutions to more customers, and help fuel Best Buy’s further growth in the consumer and commercial markets.”

One such initiative is Best Buy’s “Assured Living” program, announced in the fall of 2017. In this program, a consumer purchases a suite of products that can support aging in place, such as motion sensors for beds and doors, Wi-Fi enabled doorbell cameras and smart thermostats that can pair with smartphones. Geek Squad workers install the devices in a customer’s home.

In the Denver area, the technology is used in tandem with a wellness coach sponsored by insurer UnitedHealthcare.

The GreatCall deal won’t close for several weeks, but Best Buy is interested in continuing GreatCall’s existing sales channels, which include selling directly to consumers as well as to businesses, Best Buy Senior Communications Director Jeff Shelman told Home Health Care News in an email.

GreatCall touts how monitoring products can help health care providers prevent hospitalizations and increase seniors’ independence. The company’s focus on the end consumer makes it an attractive partner to health care providers, CEO and President David Inns told Senior Housing News—the sister publication of Home Health Care News—in 2015.

“One of the big things we always see is people coming forward with cool technology solving the problems of the senior living facility or home health agency or family caregiver, but any technology that has come from the top-down as opposed from the customer forward is seriously at risk of not having any kind of impact,” Inns said. “If it’s not a solution that has first and foremost considered the needs of the older consumer, so they’ll engage and use these technologies daily and hourly, it will absolutely fail.”

Currently, GreatCall has annual revenue in excess of $300 million. It was formed in 2006 and was acquired last year by private equity firm GTCR.

GreatCall has grown in recent years through acquiring some other technology companies serving the senior living space, including Lively and Healthsense.

“We know technology can improve the quality of life of the aging population and those who care for them,” said Hubert Joly, chairman and CEO of Best Buy, in Wednesday’s press release. “Now, we have a great opportunity to serve the needs of these customers by combining GreatCall’s expertise with Best Buy’s unique merchandising, marketing, sales and services capabilities. We look forward to working closely with David and his management team and are excited by the opportunities we have in the health space and the strengths we can bring to bear in this area, especially our experience with technology and serving customers in their home.”

GreatCall will maintain its current headquarters in San Diego, and Inns will stay on as CEO.

Best Buy expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings by fiscal year 2021.

Written by Tim Mullaney

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Tim Mullaney on Email
Tim Mullaney
If he’s not in the newsroom, Tim likes to be on the tennis court or traveling to a new destination. Recent highlights include Sri Lanka and Iceland.

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