Fitbit prices IPO at $20 per share, above previous price range

Maker of fitness- and health-tracking gadgets raises $731.5 million, for a valuation of about $4.1 billion.

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Steven Musil
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The Surge is one of the fitness trackers made by Fitbit, which is going public Thursday. Sarah Tew

Fitbit, the first wearable-tech focused company to go public, on Wednesday priced its initial public offering at $20 per share, higher than its previous estimated range per share.

The San Francisco-based company, a leading maker of fitness- and health-tracking gadgets, raised $731.5 million on the sale of nearly 36.6 million shares. The IPO values the 8-year-old company at about $4.1 billion.

Fitbit's IPO comes amid heightened mainstream interest in the market for wearable technology. Nearly every traditional technology company -- from Intel and Microsoft to Samsung and LG -- has a device for sale or a hand in the market.

Apple gave the sector a boost with the launch of its Apple Watch , a smartwatch that doubles as a fitness and activity tracker. Samsung and LG, as well as smaller companies like Jawbone and Pebble, are also competing in the wearables market. Even nontraditional technology companies, like watchmaker Fossil, are seeing opportunities in the wearables space.

Founded in October 2007 by James Park and Eric Friedman, Fitbit focuses its efforts on a wide range of simple, colorful devices meant to be clipped or strapped to the body for counting steps, measuring sleep activity and monitoring workouts. Fitbit also develops proprietary companion software for smartphones and the Web. In addition to displaying stats, the software includes training tips and a calorie tracker designed to improve the user's health regimen.

In eight years, Fitbit has come to dominate the market for wearables. Sales rose 142 percent last year, to $745.4 million, according to industry tracker NPD Group. The company also sold nearly 11 million devices last year, to capture 68 percent of the activity tracker market, up from 58 percent in 2013. Jawbone held 19 percent of the market in 2013; its share of the market in 2014 is not known.

Fitbit's shares are expected to begin trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FIT." The lead underwriters are Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Fitbit says it plans to use the cash raised through the IPO to fund its ongoing research and development, and has said it may also use a portion to acquire another company.