A product guru who helped bring the world the Xbox and the Pocket PC has now launched a new startup focused on energy, data and megacities. Horace Luke, who was previously the chief innovation officer at HTC and worked for almost a decade at Microsoft, has teamed up with co-founder tech entrepreneur Matt Taylor to create Gogoro, a startup that aims to launch a consumer-facing product using mobile networks and data to change the way people use energy in big, densely populated cities.
If the description of the product sounds a little vague, that’s because it is. Luke and his team aren’t disclosing more about what the product actually is or how it works, but they plan to launch it at Consumer Electronics Show in January. But the fact that the energy software and “smart cities” sector is getting some help from two consumer branding and product guys is exciting. The last time a well-known consumer product exec focused on energy management, the world got the Nest thermostat.
During an interview in San Francisco earlier this month, Luke said that Gogoro (which doesn’t mean anything specifically, he just liked the name) will “use technology to change how megacities use and experience energy.” Luke is passionate about fighting climate change and energy efficiency, but the Gogoro product won’t be something that consumers necessarily associate with environmentalism or energy management.
Luke and Taylor founded the company in 2011 and have been working in stealth since then. They originally raised $50 million — a particularly large amount of money for a young startup — from some of Asia’s wealthiest investors, including Sam Yin and Cher Wang, the co-founder and chairwoman of HTC. They’re finalizing another $100 million, making Gogoro a very well-funded three-year-old company.
Luke is particularly interested in helping large megacities in Asia — in China, Vietnam, Thailand and India — have a new experience with energy use, and he told me the new product is specifically for densely populated cities. Cities in Europe and the U.S. will be good candidates as well, Luke said.
It will be interesting to see exactly what Gogoro has up its sleeve, and if the product is able to capture the interest of consumers the way Nest has or the way Luke was able to with the Xbox while he was at Microsoft. The world doesn’t need another kludgey and boring energy management product — there were enough of those launched several years ago that failed. But it does need something that tackles energy use and makes it more efficient in a way that a really compelling consumer product potentially could. I can’t wait to see what they’ve got going on.
Updated at 9:38AM on October 30, to reflect that they have raised $50 million and they’re in the process of raising another $100 million.