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Nortek to buy 2GIG for $135m

Deal includes five-year supply agreement with Vivint
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02/14/2013

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Nortek, parent company of Linear, announced this morning that it will acquire 2GIG Technologies for $135 million.

Vivint and Undercover Boss: Lessons learned

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen wasn’t “fast enough” to work in one of his own warehouses, was “moving a little slow” on an installation job and should have been more adept at handling a basic tool, according to two of his  employees.

Pedersen got those professional reviews during his stint on the CBS show “Undercover Boss” on Feb. 20. I wrote about that here. During that experience, he says, he learned much about being a company leader and that “details matter most.”

For the popular reality show, Pedersen posed incognito, which included wearing a wig, as a Vivint trainee and met with four of his company’s employees at their workplaces.

First he worked with Mark on an install job that involved being up on a roof. That encounter enlightened him on the need for Vivint workers to have proper, non-slippery footwear.

He then worked with a monitoring center rep, Sandy. Pedersen, handling a call, disconnected it inadvertently. During one call, static was prevalent and Sandy told Pedersen that the system needed some fine-tuning.

On his third stint he worked at one of the company’s warehouses with Alma and was surprised when he had to fill out a work order on paper rather than digitally. Alma is the employee who told him he wasn’t suited to work for Vivint: “Too slow.”

He also was told he was working too slowly by employee Will during Pedersen’s final “Undercover Boss” gig at a smart-home installation. And, Will added, Pedersen needed practice working with a basic tool—a drill.

When I talked to Pedersen before the show aired, he couldn’t say all that much about the outcome of the show due to CBS restrictions. But I did catch up with him via email this week to get more details.

Here’s what Pedersen had to say.

Q: What was the top lesson you gleaned from being on the show?

A: As a leader, it’s your job to look at the big picture and focus on the vision of the company, but I learned that when it comes to employees, the details matter most. The smallest upgrades in equipment and installation hardware can shave off significant amounts of time and stress for employees. Little things really do make a big difference to the people you employ.

Q: How will the show have an impact on the way your company is run/managed in the future?

A: After each day on a new job [for the show], I would get on a conference call with senior management and discuss what I learned and potential improvements pertaining to that job. And while the experience hasn’t changed the way we run the company in a major way, we have made several changes in equipment and processes. 

The most significant change we implemented was announcing a brand-new facility for our monitoring professionals. As I worked alongside Sandy, she had interference issues with her equipment. In addition to improving phone cords and headsets for Sandy and her coworkers, we decided to give them a beautiful new facility. 

Q: Any other insights? Would you do this again?

A: The most interesting part was just being able to work alongside my employees as a regular guy, rather than the CEO. I truly enjoyed getting to know each of them on a personal level and learning about their backgrounds and the things they’ve overcome. I’ve always believed in cultivating strong relationships with my employees, and this experience reaffirmed the importance of that for me.

While not every executive has the chance to go undercover like I did, taking the time to work side by side and connect with employees is important for all members of the leadership team. I plan to give this opportunity to other executives so they can benefit from the invaluable insight that comes from being on the ground. (Although, I won’t make any of them wear a wig!)

I don’t think I could get away with going undercover again. Word has definitely gotten out around the company, but I did really enjoy going out in the field and working with employees across the business. I would definitely do that again, and I’ll probably take some of our other executives along with me next time. 

Pedersen also heard the four employees’ personal stories and responded to their hardships—widowhood, bankruptcy, cancer treatments, custody disagreements and more—with compassion and with his wallet. Kudos to him.

 

 

Vivint boss goes undercover

TV show experience offers insights
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02/18/2015

PROVO, Utah—Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen’s incognito stint on “Undercover Boss” prompted him to make some “tweaks” in his business, he said.

Vivint protects its intellectual property with Intelligent Ventures partnership

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

With Vivint this summer launching Vivint Sky, a new cloud-based smart home solution featuring the company’s own control panel and software, an announcement this week that Vivint has taken steps to protect its intellectual property with patents really is not surprising.

Vivint has entered into a long-term partnership with Intellectual Ventures (IV), based in Bellevue, Wash., IV announced Sept. 16.

The company is one of the nation’s largest patent holders in the world, according to CNNMoney. IV says it holds more than 40,000 patents in 50 technology areas. CNNMoney says they’re in fields that include health care, communications and energy.

Provo, Utah-based home automation/home security giant Vivint is now a customer of IV's IP for Defense program, according to IV’s news release. “Under this agreement,” the IV release said, “Vivint was granted rights to IV's extensive patent portfolio and obtained more than 20 patents in areas of interest to the company.”

IV says that “companies in rapidly growing industries rely on IV to provide ongoing guidance on the invention rights relevant to their product roadmaps. IV's IP for Defense program is also designed to level the playing field for companies faced with claims from competitors—a common issue many businesses now have to address. Under this agreement, Vivint can purchase patents from IV's portfolio on an as needed basis to protect its business.”

But CNNMoney recently termed IV “the world’s most notorious patent troll company.” Wikipedia defines a patent troll as “a person or company who enforces patent rights against accused infringers in an attempt to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question, thus engaging in economic rent-seeking.”

There have been patent infringement cases in the security industry but they’ve typically been brought by the makers of products. For example, Object Video sued Sony, Samsung and Bosch in 2011 for alleged patent infringement of some of OV’s video analytics.

I asked IV about the “patent troll” characterization, and Cory Van Arsdale, senior VP of global licensing at Intellectual Ventures, responded.

“We can’t control how other people characterize us, but we are no different than any other company protecting its IP assets,” Van Arsdale said in an email interview. “Core to our business model is developing a robust marketplace for inventors. Our latest deal with Vivint is a great example of that invention marketplace at work – a marketplace in which IV has invested billions to compensate inventors for their great work while also providing companies like Vivint access to those innovations to best meet their strategic business goals.”

In the news release, Van Arsdale explained: “Over the last 15 years, IP has come into its own as an asset class because companies of all sizes have recognized the value and competitive advantage that patents can offer. Vivint recognizes that building their patent portfolio and acquiring access to inventions in deals like this with IV provides economic and strategic value as they position themselves for continued growth.”

I reached out to Vivint to learn more about how the partnership will benefit the company, but Vivint public relations manager Jenna Cason told me the company is not commenting beyond what is in the IV news release.

In a prepared statement, Paul Evans, Vivint VP of intellectual property, said, “At Vivint, we offer our customers smart tools for simple, affordable home automation. By investing in the development of our own IP strategy with Intellectual Ventures, we have taken the steps necessary to safeguard our company's growth, and in turn, our customers' connection to their most valuable assets—their homes, families, and businesses.”

Vivint acquires Space Monkey, ‘next generation cloud’ startup

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vivint has acquired a Utah-based startup, Space Monkey, to enhance Vivint’s new Vivint Sky smart home platform, according to a news release issued today.

What is Space Monkey? Founded in 2011, the company calls itself a "next generation cloud" provider that offers “both a local storage and remote network backup for higher levels of data security and redundancy,” according to the news release.

And Space Monkey bills itself as a cheaper, faster alternative to a data center, according to information the company provided during its Kickstarter campaign last year, when it successfully raised nearly $350,000.

The campaign information decries data centers as too costly and cumbersome: “These are high-cost buildings tightly packed with expensive computer equipment. They need costly fire suppression systems, diesel backup generators, expansive power distribution systems, premium network equipment, biometric access controls, security patrols, and consume vast amounts of electricity and air-conditioning. They require 24/7 staffing and Network Operations Centers. The ongoing daily costs of keeping data centers running is exorbitant compared to the actual cost of the hard drives that store your data in the cloud.”

Instead, according to the Space Monkey’s campaign information, “It’s time to change how the world stores data, forever. What if we took the cloud out of the data center and put it a little box that you plug in at your house? What if we put software on it that allows it to cooperate with millions of other devices plugged in all over the globe to create a storage network that not only is orders of magnitude cheaper than data centers, but is also more reliable, faster, and better for the environment? Space Monkey is the answer.”

It continues: “Space Monkey is the next generation cloud. ... You get a full terabyte (1000 gigabytes) of storage you can use anywhere, any time. Space Monkey does the work behind the scenes to make your data safe and secure, using the entire network of Space Monkey devices around the world to store encrypted pieces of data in a way that makes data loss a thing of the past.”

The small device, complete with a little logo of a monkey in a space suit, costs $199, the Space Monkey website says. The first year's subscription cost is free and then is $49 annually, the site says.

It also said that “Space Monkey is up to 60x faster than any other cloud service you've used (or heard of).” However, on Space Monkey’s website it has downgraded that claim to “up to 30x faster.”

Still, that’s very fast. And Provo, Utah-based home automation/home security provider Vivint says the acquisition supports the growth and development of the Vivint Sky smart home platform that Vivint introduced this summer. The solution includes the Vivint SkyControl panel featuring proprietary cloud technology that learns from homeowners’ behaviors and makes intelligent suggestions to help them control their homes better and more conveniently.

“It’s a natural fit for us to be a part of Vivint’s technology for the smart home,” Clint Gordon-Carroll, who co-founded Space Monkey with partner Alen Peacock, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to working with Vivint as we continue to innovate and invest in the product.”

No information was provided about how much Vivint paid for Space Monkey. SSN continues to report on this story.

Vivint Solar seeks to raise $200m through IPO

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The fact that Vivint Solar officially filed with U.S. regulators last week for an initial public offering of common stock is an indication that solar continues to be a hot option for security companies.

Vivint Solar’s parent company is Provo, Utah-based home automation/home security company Vivint, which was bought by The Blackstone Group in 2012 for more than $2 billion.

Now, Reuters reported Aug. 26, Vivint Solar has filed for an IPO and set its fundraising target at about $200 million. And the news service said Vivint Solar lead underwriters to the offering are Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith and Credit Suisse.

The company will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol VSLR, Reuter said. The company plans to use the IPO proceeds to repay debts, make investments and for “other general corporate purposes,” the news service said.

Reuters had reported earlier in August that Vivint Solar had confidentially filed for an IPO. Around that same time, Protection 1, one of the nation’s largest home and commercial security, also announced it would be launching a solar division called Brite Energy. Sales of solar panels to homes and businesses are expected to begin this fall.

And earlier this year, GHS Interactive Security, a new California-based security company, announced it was partnering with Solar Universe, a leading nationwide residential solar company, to combine security and solar into a comprehensive home automation package.

Since its launch in 2011, Vivint Solar has grown to be the second largest solar installer in the country.

Reuters said that the nation’s residential solar energy market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28 percent, to about 1,713 megawatts of capacity in 2017, according to research firm GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

 

Solar is hot commodity—but can pose fire risks

Security companies branching out into the solar business should be aware of photovoltaic fire hazards
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08/18/2014

QUINCY, Mass.—As security companies get involved in solar panel installation, they should be aware of potential fire hazards posed by solar panels.

Protection 1 adding solar to its mix

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08/08/2014

ROMEOVILLE, Ill.—Protection 1, based here, is joining the trend of security companies selling solar, the company has announced.

Protection 1 on the block?

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Home security giant Protection 1 is up for sale for more than $1.5 billion, according to a Reuters news report this week.

GTCR, the private equity firm that bought Protection 1 in 2010 for $828 million has asked Morgan Stanley to help in the sales effort, the news service reported Aug. 4.

I’ve reached out to Romeoville, Illinois-based Protection 1 for comment on the report, which Reuters ascribed to unidentified sources.

Protection 1 is one of the largest full-service business and home security companies in the United States. As of the end of 2013, it had 1.5 million customers and $28 million in RMR, an increase of nearly 8 percent over the previous year, according to published reports. Revenues exceeded $429 million.

By contrast, home automation/home security company Vivint—which was acquired by The Blackstone Group in 2012 for more than $2 billion—ended 2013 with more than $42 million in RMR, an increase of 23 percent over the previous year. Provo, Utah-based Vivint, which has more than 800,000 customers, had in excess of $500 million in revenues in 2013, according to published information.

Stay posted. I'll be updating this story as I get more information.

 

Vivint creates CSO position, hires federal cyber expert Joe Albaugh

New Vivint CSO Albaugh was security chief at DOT, FAA
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07/30/2014

PROVO, Utah—Joe Albaugh, who today joined Vivint in the newly created position of chief security officer, brings significant cyber expertise, having previously served as chief information security officer at the U.S. Department of Transportation and also at the Federal Aviation Administration.

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