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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.

Former Vivint CFO on the Alarm.com IPO

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Alarm.com's announcement that it will go public has a lot of people talking inside and outside of the security industry. Many of the insiders, however, will not talk on the record, at least not right now.  

I was interested in talking to someone who knows IPOs, understands the security industry and is familiar with Alarm.com, and I came up with Chris Black. Black is the former CFO of Vivint who helped Vivint prepare for the sale to Blackstone. He's also helped other companies go public. Today he works outside of the industry as CFO of Viamedia and as a board member of Sports Information Group which owns the Daily Racing Form.  

In an email interview Black called Alarm.com "a terrific company with a strong management team that I gained a lot of respect for during my interactions with them while I was at Vivint."

He said an IPO can "have a transformational impact on the business" and a positive affect on the industry.

"The IPO will provide them with access to another source of capital to continue to grow the business and invest in new products and opportunities. I also think it is a great event for the security industry as a whole. It serves as further validation of the space and will bring in new equity investors that may or may not have looked at security companies in the past,"

The only potential downside, Black said "is the amount of time the management team, particularly the CEO and CFO, are required to spend on investor relations activities including calls with equity analysts, investors and presentations at equity conferences and the like."

How might the IPO affect customers?

"This is really just another form of financing the growth of the business and shouldn't have an immediate impact on Alarm.com's customers one way or the other. Longer term, one could assume that access to public equity will allow the company to invest in the business and continue to develop new products and enhance existing ones either organically or through acquisitions, or both," he said.

Five Questions: Joe Albaugh

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04/30/2015

Joe Albaugh is the chief security officer at Vivint, a job he has held for 10 months. He is responsible for the “convergence of security practices,” he says, including the operational security of products, cybersecurity and personal and physical security.

Vivint alerts homeowners about scam artists

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Say your residential security company has made a huge dent in a particular neighborhood. You’ve got the area covered and all is good, for you and for homeowners.

Then some shifty guy comes around that neighborhood, knocks on your customers’ doors and professes to offer a better deal for their homes’ security than you can provide.

The guy is likely part of a door-to-door scam, and it’s also likely more guys like him will be showing up over the summer months, according to the Better Business Bureau. I read about a spate of this going on recently in Corpus Christie, Texas, but that's not to say Corpus Christie is a unique target of such ploys.

Vivint has a way of letting its customers know to be on the lookout for such scams. It encourages aware customers to contact the company about suspected scams or deceptive sales practices in their neighborhoods. Upon that notification, Vivint will send out an alert to alarm panels owned by customers in the impacted area. The message says that security scams have been reported nearby, and also gives a 24/7 phone number to call to verify a Vivint rep who might legitimately show up at the door.

“At Vivint, we take all possible measures to keep our customers protected. This includes keeping them apprised of what’s going on in and around their homes in real time,” Steve Dixon, VP of customer experience and operations, told me via email.

"The security alert is one of the things Vivint uses, in addition to customer emails and calls, to advise Vivint customers about questionable or deceptive sales practices used by competitor sales representatives in the area," Dixon said.

Good for Vivint, I say, and to all the other resi providers who provide such a service.

Scam artists, beware!

Vivint makes Forbes list of 'Best Employers'

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04/10/2015

PROVO, Utah—Forbes has put Vivint on its inaugural list of “America’s Best Employers.”

Vivint is the top-ranked security and home automation company on the list of 500.

Vivint owners mull sale of security guard company

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Blackstone Group, which bought home security giant Vivint for $2 billion in 2012 is reportedly exploring the sale of security guard company AlliedBarton, according to a report this week from Reuters.

The report said the deal should be valued at about “$1.5 billion, including debt.”

Blackstone has hired investment bank Credit Suisse Group AG to explore the sale, the report said.

The report quoted an AlliedBarton spokeswoman saying that it’s “the right time for a new private equity sponsor.”

That timing seems right or even a little overdue as PE generally holds a company for three to five years.

According the report, Blackstone has owned AlliedBarton for six years. Blackstone acquired AlliedBarton from Ronald Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings in 2008 for up to $750 million, Rueters said.

Rueters said AlliedBarton has EBITDA of  $150 million.

AlliedBarton, based in Conshohocken, Pa., has more than 55,000 employees and 120 offices.

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.

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