Kid-friendly robotics giant Sphero has acquired DIY programming-kit company littleBits. The two toy-based teaching companies expect to build on each other’s strengths to become an even more massive player in the education space. Neither company has revealed the financial terms of the deal, but Sphero now claims to have the largest reach in the educational market with more than $500 million in product sold when combined with littleBits, according to data first reported by EdSurge.
“Through this acquisition, Sphero becomes the largest player in its market,” the company claims in a statement on its website. “With a comprehensive offering of hardware, software, curriculum, and training, it is positioned to shape the $150 billion education technology industry.”
In addition to sharing a common investor in the Foundry Group, both companies share DNA from Disney. After several years with a licensing deal to make toy Star Wars droids for Disney, Sphero has doubled down on the idea of using more generic robots to teach coding skills, creating math and science lessons for schools. littleBits, a 2016 Most Innovative Company that offers modular electronics that snap together with magnets to let kids build their own technology, sold its own R2D2 droid-assembly kit and has collaborated with Disney on the nonprofit STEM program Snap the Gap.
Together, the toy makers now claim they can reach more than 6 million students in 35,000 schools. The acquisition could potentially help Sphero expand even further, since littleBits owns DIY.org, an online community where kids can show off their own maker-inspired projects.
“Over the past nine years, Sphero and littleBits have each created entirely new categories of hands-on learning tools that enable invention and STEAM education through play and technology,” the company concluded in its statement. “Today, littleBits joins Sphero to advance their common mission—inspiring the creators and inventors of tomorrow.”