Melbourne based lighting controls startup Daintree Networks was acquired by Current (GE) for supposedly $77m (USD).
More background from an Australian media outlet (note the figures must be in Australian currency):
GE has bought Melbourne-founded building automation startup Daintree Networks for more than $100 million, one of the biggest private sales of an Australian technology business this decade.
Started by Bill Wood and other former Hewlett-Packard engineers in Melbourne in 2003, Daintree’s wireless system for controlling lighting and air-conditioning, Controlscope, is already used in 1000 small-to-medium sized commercial buildings in the US.
Following the purchase by GE, Daintree’s team – 30 engineers in Melbourne and about 30 other staff in California and Massachussetts – will join a GE unit called Current, a six-month-old internal startup which deploys Predix, GE’s industrial internet software platform.
“This acquisition will enable Current to expand its building automation platform and its energy-as-a-service offering to small- and medium-size facilities across the globe through the deployment of Daintree’s open, standards-based wireless control systems,” GE said in a statement.
Teresa Engelhard, Jolimont Capital managing partner and long-time Daintree director, says the sale represents Jolimont’s largest-ever dollar return. Andrew Meares
GE did not disclose the terms of the deal. However, managing partner at Melbourne-based venture capital firm Jolimont Capital, Teresa Engelhard, said it would return $42 million to investors from its approximately 40 per cent stake in the company, built from a total of $17 million funding across Daintree’s seed, Series A amd Series B rounds.
This return, the largest in dollar size in Jolimont’s 13-year history, would value the company at just over $100 million.
The venture capital arm of Australian property giant Lend Lease was Daintree’s other major investor. It lead 2010’s Series B capital raising and was also understood to have around a 40 per cent stake. A spokesperson said the transaction was immaterial by the definition of the ASX listing rules, and terms would not be disclosed.
The integration into Predix will make it easier for building managers to analyse data collected from Daintree sensors, and make decisions to reduce energy costs even further than the 60 per cent the company already claims on behalf of US clients like Universal Music Group and National Bank Of Arizona.
“Predix really ups the ante to where Daintree would have taken a long time to get to on its own,” said Daintree’s San Francisco-based chief executive, Derek Proudian.
Daintree’s engineering team will remain in Melbourne following the transaction, confirmed GE’s chief executive for Australia, Geoff Culbert.
“We want to keep the essence of their entrepreneurial culture but give it a global platform. This is a wonderful story for Australian technology,” he said.
Proudian only took the helm of Daintree last June but has overseen a doubling of the Melbourne engineering team in that time. He describes the team as “thought leaders” in the world of wireless mesh networking.
“Silicon Valley is so overheated, you just can’t find talented people for any amount of money,” he said. “The work ethic and calibre of our engineers – and their stickiness, you don’t get the job hoppers you get in California – make Australia a great place to grow. I’ve built teams around the world and Melbourne’s a breath of fresh air.”
The Daintree acquisition better positioned GE for the coming boom in industrial internet, Culbert said.
“The industrial internet today is where consumer internet was in 1999. GE projects there will be 50 billion connected machines by 2020, including 100 million connected lightbulbs. These once static things are being turned into powerful drivers of information. We think there’ll be exponential growth from there.”
Engelhard, who resigned her nine-year directorship of Daintree along with the rest of its board at a handover ceremony in Melbourne on Thursday, said the Daintree deal was proof that Australia could “do deep tech, do it as well or better than anyone, and do it despite all the naysayers we encountered in Australia along the way.”