The Nest Labs Dropcam acquisition is the latest move in Google’s quest to get more intimately into customer’s homes. Nest Labs, which belongs to Google, is to buy Dropcam, the home-monitoring startup for approximately $555 million.
Although Dropcam and Nest Labs confirmed the takeover, neither of them revealed exactly how much money will change hands.
Google has been venturing into new markets over the last few years. In May it announced that it was to build self-driving cars, starting off with about 100 prototypes, the aim being to have a small pilot program of self-testing vehicles by 2016. The company is also looking into high-speed Internet access and robotics.
It bought Nest Labs on January 14th, 2014, for $3.2 billion, its second-biggest ever acquisition. Nest Labs designs and makes sensor-driven, Wi-Fi enabled, self-learning, programmable smoke detectors and thermostats. It was co-founded by Matt Roger and Tony Fadell, two former Apple engineers in 2010. The company grew rapidly and was employing more than 130 workers by the end of 2012.
Google said the Nest Labs acquisition was part of its plan to move into the rapidly-growing home automation market, and exploit the merging of consumer appliances and Internet services. The deal prompted privacy concerns for Google, a company which already gathers and analyzes the online habits of hundreds of millions of people.
2014, a year of acquisitions
So far this year, Google has also acquired:
- Adometry: specializes in online ad attribution.
- Appetas: a website that lets restaurant owners build a website at affordable prices.
- Bitspin: the maker of the Timely clock app.
- DeepMind Technologies: working in the relatively new field of artificial intelligence research, including the recognition of words in human speech and faces in video.
- Divide: offers a BYOD (bring-your-own-device) solution for corporate environments.
- Green Throttle: a gaming company which created an Android-based game system and controller.
- Impermium: a cyber-security tech startup firm that provides security for websites, protecting them from hackers and other malware.
- Quest Visual: creator of World Lens, a translator app that allows users to flip on the camera of their Android or iOS device and use it to frame a selection of words they do not understand, such as a foreign-language signpost.
- Rangespan: uses data science to help retailers decide which products to sell and when to sell them.
- SlickLogin: allows websites to authenticate a user’s identity by using sound waves.
- Spider.io: created software that helps spot and stop online advertising fraud.
- Stackdriver: allows its users to monitor their cloud applications.
- Titan Aerospace: a startup that makes high-flying drones.
(Data and photo sources: Dropcam)
Dropcam Inc., with headquarters in San Francisco, California, is known for Dropcam and Dropcam Pro – Wi-Fi video streaming cameras that allow users to view live feeds through its cloud-based service.
The company was founded by Aamir Virani and Greg Duffy, both software engineers. Mr. Duffy is the company’s CEO and Mr. Virani its COO.
The engineers initially developed software for the Swedish AXIS cameras, but found they were too expensive. Eventually they parted ways with AXIS and starting producing their own cameras that provide video monitoring for people’s homes and small businesses.
They say that Dropcam is the first monitoring camera for in-home usage. The idea came from Mr. Duffy’s father, who wanted to find a way of proving that his neighbor was letting his dog poop on his lawn.
Dropcam’s cloud data is hosted through Amazon Web Services. According to Mr. Duffy, more video is recorded by Dropcam than YouTube.
Dropcam became increasingly popular for parents who wanted to monitor their kids, as well as those wishing to check on their pets. The service is also expanding rapidly in pet stores and adoption centers. There have been cases of users finding recordings of home-burglaries.