According to Morningstar’s GLOBE NEWSWIRE, Dentsply Sirona acquires Byte in an all-cash deal for $1.04 billion.
Quite remarkable that Byte is a “unicorn” in the direct-to-consumer dental space. It joins industry-leader and rival Smile Direct Club who raised over $1 billion with their IPO last year. Smile Direct Club took a beating in the press along the way. Byte avoided this by highlighting the dentist-directed aspect of their business. Also remarkable that a staid 135-year-old company like Dentsply Sirona would acquire a company whose domain name is byteme.com. The direct-to-consumer business model was once anathema to companies in this market. Dentists are asking pointed questions on LinkedIn and other platforms. The “dentsply” of Dentsply Sirona is a mash-up of Dentists’ Supply Company, which started out making dentures in New York City circa 1899. (Full disclosure, the author was an employee of Dentsply Sirona from 2014-2017.) A good reminder that successful businesses change to meet the market, especially when that market is growing at >20% per year!
Where to go from here
This observer would expect the combined offering to allow CEREC Primescan users easy access to the Byte product line. The existing dentist-directed service allows consumers to purchase direct, Byte gives Dentsply Sirona’s orthodontic customers access to proven tele-dentistry tools. Some orthodontic practices now start all patients — including teens — with clear aligner trays, switching to brackets only if the trays are not being worn correctly. This acquisition gives Dentsply Sirona a fighting chance against Align Tech‘s dominance in the clear aligner market. Not to overlook that Byte is a consumer-facing brand that can be leverage into other product lines.
The strength of Dentsply Sirona’s materials portfolio might also be a consideration. Current best practice for producing clear aligner trays at scale is by vacuum forming to a printed dental model. Might this acquisition encourage a printed end-use product? We will have to wait and see.
What are your thoughts on Dentsply Sirona acquires Byte in particular or direct-to-consumer dental products in general? Please leave a comment!