Seattle startup vet Rob Lilleness acquires Smartlabs, investing $7.3M in the home automation company – GeekWire

Rob Lilleness is breaking into IoT with Smartlabs acquisition. (Photo via Lilleness)

As CEO of Medio Systems, Rob Lilleness led the predictive analytics startup through 10 years of growth and an acquisition by HERE Technologies. Now the Seattle startup vet is ready to start something new.

Last month, he left his Medio position to take over as CEO and chairman of Smartlabs, a home automation company based in Irvine, Calif. Smartlabs is the parent company of Insteon, which makes technology for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and Smarthome, an e-commerce store for home automation products.

Lilleness is acquiring Smartlabs via Richmond Capital Partners, a private investment firm he set up to take on IoT companies. Richmond Capital is investing $7.3 million in Smartlabs as part of the acquisition deal. Smartlabs’ headquarters will remain in Irvine, but Lilleness plans to set up a software team in Seattle, where he is based.

HERE acquired Medio in 2014 to bolster its real-time maps and location services. At the time, HERE was owned by Nokia but in 2015 sold to a handful of German automakers hoping to apply the mapping technology to their self-driving cars. HERE has since taken on additional owners, including Intel and Tencent.

HERE’s technology is found in a majority of in-car navigation systems across North America and Europe. Lilleness is ready to apply what he learned about the connected car to his new IoT venture.

“There are two incredibly interesting IoT spaces in technology today — the car and the home,” said Lilleness. “Over the next five to ten years, it is inevitable that a large portion of electrical nodes in the home will be ‘smart’ and addressable via the internet. With Insteon’s patented dual-mesh technology that communicates both wirelessly and via the home’s own electrical wiring, Smartlabs has the most reliable and scalable technology for electrical control and communication which is critical to meet consumers’ expectations.”

Prior to Medio, Lilleness served as president and COO of Universal Electronics. Before that, he was a technical product manager for Microsoft.