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Portfolio November 12, 2013

Our Investment in SmartThings

Greylock leads Series A Round

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It’s hard to believe that we are only 6-7 years into the smartphone era. It feels like a distant memory when I couldn’t use my phone to find my way, check myself in, snap a photo, or tweet something to the world. My phone buzzes me when someone tags me or mentions me, when I should leave early for my next meeting, or even when it is going to rain. And it’s getting smarter every day.

Yet, while the computers in our pockets have become so powerful, it’s surprising how much of the physical world we live in is still pretty dumb. I can’t remember if I left my garage door open (did you?), and I have no way to find out without driving back home. When I leave a room and don’t turn off the lights, the room can’t tell and turn them off for me, nor can it turn down the heat. If something starts to leak under my sink, I only find out after I see the puddle instead of right when it starts to drip.

These same insights came to Alex Hawkinson when he one day found $80,000 worth of damage caused by a leaky pipe that had been flooding for a while. He wondered why he couldn’t have learned about it sooner, or perhaps even shut off the water remotely. So, like any great entrepreneur, he searched for a solution and when couldn’t find anything, he and his team decided to build one. As they thought more about the problem, their vision grew and grew. They realized that it wasn’t just about leak detection, but about a way for any of the devices in the home to connect with each other and be smart. To give you access and information no matter where you are. They started drawing up plans for a platform around what they called the “open physical graph” to let anything in your home be programmed and connected, just like software. And they decided to make it open so that any devices or new ideas could be plugged in with just an API call.

This spawned SmartThings, the leading platform for the Internet of Things. The first version of the SmartThings system includes a simple hub to connect to devices in your home and an easy-to-use mobile app that puts control and knowledge of your home in the palm of your hand. It is built around an open platform that allows you to connect and control thousands of devices that are available today at any local hardware store and new ones that are being invented every day. These range from motion sensors and leak detectors, to locks, thermostats, lighting controls, and much more.

I’m thrilled to announce that we are leading the Series A in SmartThings in partnership with Highland Capital Partners. Alex has shared some of his thoughts on today’s new here, but at Greylock, we believe that consumers are just starting to realize their homes can be as smart as their phones. With SmartThings today, It’s deceptively easy to get started and with just a few sensors, have a powerful security system running in your home that alerts you when anything is amiss. In fact, within a couple of days of getting this in my home, I was surprised to get a push notification that my door was opened and motion was detected when we were away. Fortunately, it turned out to just be my mother-in-law. But my example is one of many scenarios where SmartThings can help make people’s lives easier, safer, and more fun.

I’m looking forward to working with Alex, Andrew, Jeff, Maria, and the team as they are just getting started. In many ways the Internet of Things feels like social networking did 10 years ago when I first met and joined up with my partner Reid at LinkedIn. Back then Reid said that if we can help everyone connect with the people that they know and trust, it will open up an incredible number of opportunities and services that we can build on top of those connections. With the physical world today, we see the same thing — if we can just get devices in our homes to start being connected with each other, the opportunities are endless.

I encourage you to check out SmartThings and get a starter kit to start making your home more secure, smart, and fun. We’re thrilled to be part of the journey and hope you will be, too.

“While the computers in our pockets have become so powerful, it’s surprising how much of the physical world we live in is still pretty dumb.”