On the heels of Silion Valley startup iControl securing a deal to provide its software for Comcast’s new home security and energy management service, iControl announced Monday that it has raised another $50 million in a Series D round from its long list of high profile investors. With this funding, seven-year-old iControl has now raised over $100 million from investors including Comcast Ventures (the VC arm of Comcast), Cisco, Intel’s VC arm Intel Capital, Kleiner Perkins’ iFund, and the parent company of security firm ADT.
iControl says the new funds will be partly focused on expanding its energy-based software and services, which enable home owners and utilities to be able to remotely manage lights, connected thermostats and smart appliances. Smart energy tools have been a smaller piece of the overall package of home automation services, which also includes applications like connected video camera security, but are supposed to be a growing piece of the pie over the coming years.
As I wrote earlier this year (GigaOM Pro, subscription required) there’s been an emerging trend around broadband service providers and security companies looking to sell smart energy home tools, with Verizon and Comcast launching these services in recent months, AT&T and Motorola acquiring home automation and energy players, and startups like Consert, EcoFactor and OPower looking to develop innovation around the smart energy home. Pike Research predicts that globally there will be 63 million users of home energy management systems (in home displays, web sites, mobile apps) by 2020, up from about 1 million users this year.
Utilities are also an important market for home energy players, and iControl seems to want to work its way further into that smart grid home energy ecosystem, where it will compete with utility-focused companies like Tendril, OPower, Control4, Silver Spring Networks, and many others. Utilities are investing millions of dollars in installing smart meters, and will eventually roll out home energy dashboards and services to its customers in order to leverage these new digital assets.
At the same time, remember selling better ways to manage energy use is a difficult market. Consumers don’t necessarily care about reducing energy on its own, but they could be persuaded to use a service that reduces their energy bills, and could also be interested in turning off and on lights as a security feature. At the same time, utilities are notoriously very slow moving, and have taken years to do pilot tests of this type of technology.