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Firm Management

PwC Buys Surfaceink

San Jose, CA-based Surfaceink is known for being a key hardware engineering partner for Apple after Steve Jobs' return as CEO.

Big Four firm PwC has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Surfaceink, a well-known San Jose, CA-based product design, development, and engineering services firm specializing in consumer electronics and Internet of Things initiatives.

The proposed acquisition, announced on Dec. 11, is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Founded in 1999, Surfaceink brings deep expertise in design, hardware, software, and technical services to PwC, with a focus on creating holistic product solutions and exceptional user experiences. The company got its start as Apple’s key hardware engineering partner after the return of Steve Jobs as CEO, according to TechCrunch. Surfaceink also completed engineering design work in the past for clients—and Apple competitors—like Palm and Hewlett-Packard. 

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Eric Bauswell

In August 2010, Apple severed its relationship with Surfaceink because of “Apple’s growing awareness of our turnkey capabilities,” Surfaceink founder and CEO Eric Bauswell told the New York Times, referring to his company’s business of designing products for its clients. “I think they view our capabilities as an opportunity for competitors,” he said at the time.

The company has around 50 employees in the Bay Area and all of them, including Bauswell, will be joining PwC as part of the deal, TechCrunch reported. Surfaceink will also be bringing on work it has in progress with existing customers while also working with PwC on winning new business, the tech news website said.

“We are thrilled to join forces with PwC and embark on this exciting new chapter,” Bauswell said in a statement. “This acquisition will provide Surfaceink with the resources and capabilities to help our clients go beyond product innovation and into full company reinvention. Together with PwC, we can now combine our expertise and expanded offerings to accelerate the connected product journey and deliver innovative solutions at scale faster. This acquisition builds on our tremendous legacy in product design, development, and engineering and reinforces our commitment to delivering exceptional value to our clients.”

PwC officials say Surfaceink’s client relationships and track record of pioneering innovation and success make them an ideal fit for PwC’s growth strategy.

Mohamed Kande

“With the acquisition of Surfaceink, PwC US is embarking on an exciting journey into the future, where companies need to consider how they serve customers and grow differently,” said Mohamed Kande, head of PwC’s U.S. consulting business and the firm’s global advisory leader.

“PwC US is making a clear statement that we’re not just here to transform businesses but to reinvent them holistically through a marriage of technology, engineering and industry experience and insights,” added Kande, who will take over as PwC’s global chairman on July 1, 2024, succeeding the retiring Bob Moritz. “We want to revolutionize how many of our clients connect with their customers—co-creating products and reimagining experiences—as their trusted collaborator every step of the way.”

Surfaceink’s product design and prototyping capabilities, including specialized labs for acoustics, 3-D printing, and electronics, will help provide PwC clients with immediate design and build opportunities. This will enable clients to rapidly bring their ideas to life and test market viability, regardless of where they are in their reinvention journey, PwC said.