​AGL makes smart home play with $10m investment

US-based August Home raised a total of $25 million in its Series C round from AGL, Comcast Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, and others.

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August Doorbell Cam

Image: August Home

Australian energy supplier AGL has announced a $10 million investment in smart home startup August Home, touted as a strategic move to enter the connected home market.

AGL executive general manager for New Energy Elisabeth Brinton said on Thursday the $10 million investment is part of a broader innovation strategy, allowing insight and access to new connected home technology.

"Our investment provides us with an opportunity to participate in, learn, and help shape the emergence of this new, exciting technology and bring it to Australian consumers," Brinton said in a statement.

"We see August Home as the front door of the connected home. It can help consumers improve their lifestyle, provide convenience and in-home security by enabling them to monitor what's happening at their front door and manage access to their homes, all controlled via their smartphones no matter where they are."

The $10 million from AGL is part of August Home's $25 million Series C round. Existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Comcast Ventures, Maveron, and Qualcomm Ventures participated in the round, as well as new investors Liberty Mutual and European private equity fund SPDG.

The latest funding takes the total raised by August Home to $75 million.

The funding will be used by the San Francisco-based company to expand operations and extend its Home Access Products and Services, which currently include the August Smart Lock, August Smart Keypad, and August Doorbell Cam that can all be controlled using a smartphone.

"We know the connected home is a major area of interest for our customers and we're focused on how we can give our customers greater control of their energy management," Brinton added. "As we continue to innovate, we're thinking of the home as a whole ecosystem -- connected by smart technology. For us, this is just the beginning."

Earlier this month, Alphabet's Nest Labs launched in Australia, making its smart smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, indoor and outdoor security cameras, and subscription-based footage viewing service Nest Aware available via online services comparison provider iSelect.

Speaking at Nest's launch in Sydney, iSelect MD and CEO Scott Wilson said his company helps Australians with insurance products for when things go wrong, and that offering safety and security products allows iSelect to move closer to the source to avoid the problem in the first place.

"iSelect started out as a disruptor ... so what we're doing with Nest and our core partners is about how do we disrupt the next phase for our customers and bring them better value," Wilson explained. "There will be a series of products that we will launch, such as with Energy Australia later this month -- we're working with 110 companies to bring innovative solutions to market."

Energy Australia is making its own smart play, investing AU$9.3 million in Brisbane-based Redback Technologies to help the solar energy startup accelerate the development of a new technology that will allow Australians to have greater control over their energy consumption, save costs, and contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions.

The Redback Generation 2 Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter System -- which EnergyAustralia promotes to its 1.7 million customers -- can be run remotely from a smartphone or through Redback's cloud-enabled intelligent system called the Ouija Board. It is also battery and solar panel agnostic, which means it works with existing systems.

Hosted on Microsoft's Azure IoT Suite, Redback's solar solution uses machine learning to gather intelligence over time, learning from user preferences as well as drawing data from external factors such as the weather.

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