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When I met Atif in the summer of 2013, he was still at his old job and looking to start his own hardware startup. He briefly joined us at Venture Scanner to look at the IoT space, came up with a bunch of ideas, and discussed them with us. A year later, he launched a smart lightbulb socket called emberlight on kickstarter and blew past his goal of $50K in five days (raised $78K with 34 days left at the time of writing this post).
When I launched the IoT landscape two months ago, I had 391 companies in the system. Today I scanned my 500th company into Venture Scanner so I decided to update the category map. I also added a new category called "Tags and Trackers" as we're seeing a growing number of startups making little devices that help people find smartphones, items, and kids.
A short post today on a few interesting articles I came across on IoT chip businesses over the past few weeks. 1) IoT business small but growing fast and profitable This article talks about Intel's IoT group (used to be called the Intelligent Systems Group) and its profitability. The group's revenue grew from $1.6B in 2012 to $1.8B in 2013, and is expected to surpass $2B in 2014. While this is small compared with Intel's total revenue of $53B (2013), the group's operating income was a very impressive 31% (Intel's total operating income was 23% in the same year). The author says this high profitability is due to the company's ability to leverage existing technology and high margin on related software sales. 2) New chips that serve the needs of IoT Some IoT devices need to operate in a very different environment from PCs and smartphones. Many of them have limited access to power (ie. iBeacons) and some need to operate in harsh environments. Adesto Technologies announced a new memory chip called CBRAM that consumes 1/100 less energy and can withstand high levels of gamma rays and electron beam sterilization treatments, meaning "it can be used in a surgery room, even after sterilizing". A new line of sensors from Spansion can harvest its own energy from the sun, vibration, or heat. Company spokesman says that the chips could operate "for a decade to 30 years, perhaps even more". Chip makers have been eager to find future applications beyond PCs and smartphones to drive their next growth. Will IoT fill that role? The industry sure hopes so as we're seeing forecasts that say IoT will surpass PCs, smartphones, and tablets around 2020. Check out our full scan of IoT on the Venture Scanner website!Read More
Last week GE and Frost announced a joint effort to create an incubation program called Frost I3 incubator. It focuses on the industrial internet—solutions that utilize big data and sensors that drive efficiency and productivity. This past week Microsoft Ventures and American Family Insurance also announced the creation of an accelerator for the connected home.
The hot IoT news this weekend was Nest's acquisition of DropCam for $555M. Compared with the multi-billion dollar hardware deals this year so far, $555M seems small but in my mind incredibly large for a connected home market that's still far from reaching the mass market. Google surely is betting big in anticipation for future growth by shedding out $3.2B for Nest and DropCam.
The term "connected home" or "smart home" has been around for decades. In the 90's and 00's, a lot of consumer electronics companies and component makers published drawings with home servers, gateways, and all types of home devices talking to each other and sharing files. I remember, in my past life, I used to draw similar things on powerpoint and announced a lot of partnerships and initiatives . However, none of those concepts became a mainstream hit.