Digital Lumens, a startup with a sensored, networked LED lighting platform, has been bought by Osram, one of a few top dogs in the global lighting industry. Now, both companies are eyeing smart building applications far beyond keeping the lights on.
Wednesday’s press release didn’t disclose financial terms, but Reuters reported that a source close to the deal said it was in the “mid-double-digit million-dollar” range. It’s worth noting that Digital Lumens also used the same term in the press release to describe its sales over the past fiscal year.
Such a vague figure makes it unclear at present whether or not Digital Lumens’ price represents a good return on the $65 million raised so far by the Boston, Mass.-based startup. Investors include Nokia Growth Partners, Aster Capital, Goldman Sachs, Flybridge Capital Partners, Black Coral Capital and Stata Ventures.
Digital Lumens has built an indoor wireless networking environment around its own LED lighting units, built to replace high-intensity lights for cold storage facilities, warehouses, and other large and open commercial buildings. It hit 100 million square feet of space under its lights in 2014, 200 million square feet in early 2015, 300 million square feet in mid-2016, and more than 500 million square feet as of February 2017.
Like most networked lighting vendors, Digital Lumens has built its business on the increasingly attractive efficiency and lifespan benefits of LEDs over the lights they’re replacing. And like many others, it’s built in a whole range of sensors -- temperature, humidity, motion, and of course, light -- to report on other aspects of the built environment.
In February, Digital Lumens started offering customers access to this data, along with some underlying analytics capabilities, via its SiteWorx cloud platform. For a monthly service charge, SiteWorx provided the “Tune” advanced lighting application with automated measurement and verification, as well as its “Sense” environmental monitoring for temperature and humidity across buildings, and its “Amp” energy management solution that “monitors, measures, and controls non-lighting electrical loads for insight into operations and maximum efficiency.”
That makes Digital Lumens a platform that Osram could use for lighting controls, energy management, security system monitoring, and measuring air quality and other environmental parameters. “By integrating software and sensors in a single platform, we will be able to give businesses a deeper insight into the environment within their buildings and their utilization of space,” Stefan Kampmann, Osram’s CTO, noted in the press release.
That’s a similar goal for most of the startups competing against Digital Lumens for square footage under their smart, networked LEDs. Almost all of them have been bought by companies like Osram, Philips, Acuity or General Electric, all of which have the global reach to bring their technologies to mass markets.
The list of acquisitions includes Daintree Networks, bought by GE’s Current for $77 million; Sensity Systems, bought by Verizon last year; Distech, bought by Acuity Brands for $252 million in 2015; Redwood Systems, acquired by CommScope in 2013; and Adura, bought by Acuity in 2013.
The deal announced Wednesday is the second acquisition for Osram since it stated its intentions this spring to spend up to $530 million on companies to fill out its portfolio. In June it acquired LED Engin, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of “ultra-bright, ultra-compact” LEDs.
One of Digital Lumens’ closest competitors is Enlighted, a San Francisco-based startup that’s also built its own lighting units to carry its network and software, and has raised about $80 million from investors including Tao Capital, Kleiner Perkins, RockPort Capital Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson.