Sphero, littleBits, DIY, JAM … @littlebits @sphero #makerbusiness #oshw


Sphero acquires littleBits. It’s been a busy week, and we’re just getting to post about this now… Most of this is to collect some links and past coverage in one spot…

Sphero  and littleBits have long been kindred spirits in the world of entertaining STEM toys, and soon they’ll be one and the same. Sphero this morning announced plans to buy the New York-based electronic building block company.

Founded in 2010 and 2011 respectively, Sphero (nee Orbotix) and littleBits took separate approaches, but ultimately ended up in similar spaces. Sphero first brought to life a smartphone-controlled 3D-printed ball that debuted at CES in 2011. That same year, Ayah Bdeir’s electronics kit side project became a serious business under the littleBits banner.

Both companies were alumni of Disney’s accelerator. Sphero leveraged that connection in the breakout Star Wars: The Force Awakens toy, a remote control BB-8. Ultimately, however, it flew too close to the sun with its licensed products, creating R2-D2, Lightning McQueen and talking Spider-Man toys. Early last year, the Colorado-based company ended the Disney deal, laid off dozens and announced that it was moving full time into educational toys.


We’ve followed the littleBits story from the start, Ayah is one of the co-founders of the open-source hardware summit and helped create the open-source hardware definition. Ayah was also on Ask an Engineer a few times of course too

Littlebits Kit

Our first post about littleBits was June 20th, 2008. You can see some of the prototypes there.

Adafruit 2019 2493

At this time some of the littleBits are on GitHub under a CERN Open Hardware License Version 1.2, they’re from the bits made about 5 to 8 years ago.


In August of last year (2018) littleBits acquired DIY.org and JAM. The reported funding for DIY was $9m.

Adafruit 2019 2494

littleBits, according to Crunchbase, had a total of $70.1M in funding.

Adafruit 2019 2495

Sphero, also according to Crunchbase has a total of $120.3M in funding, this includes the recent Kickstarter of $1M. The details of the littleBits acquisition are not public, so no word on how much, etc. littleBits sold for.

Adafruit 2019 2496

Ayah posted on Medium and has left littleBits.


  • Sphero RVR – The go anywhere, do anything programmable robot – Kickstarter.
  • Sphero + littleBits Join Forces! – littleBits.
  • Sphero discontinues its BB-8, R2-D2, and other licensed Disney products – The Verge.
  • LittleBits lays off employees as it shifts focus toward education – TechCrunch.
  • Sphero lays off dozens as it shifts focus to education – TechCrunch.

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in! adafruit.com/mastodon

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community! http://adafru.it/discord

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers – CircuitPython.org

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at AdafruitDaily.com !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.