Big Data

Here’s what one venture capitalist seeks from the Internet of things

Above: Barry Eggers, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners

Image Credit: Lightspeed Venture Partners
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Nest has picked up a nice lead on the widening Internet of things with a connected thermostat and a connected smoke detector. Great — Barry Eggers of Lightspeed Venture Partners, which invested in Nest, is happy for the company. But now he’s got his eyes out for the next big venture-funding opportunities in the Internet of things.

Data scientists, entrepreneurs, and IT analysts have great hopes for the Internet of things. One analyst recently declared 2014 to be the year when IT buyers focus more on the Internet of things.

But serious adoption of technology typically comes years after people initially get excited about it, and then they grow disappointed as they realize that it’s not everything it was cracked up to be. That’s been the case with other trends, such as cloud computing and big data, and the same thing could happen with the Internet of things.


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In any case, more connected devices are sure to emerge from the Internet of things — baby monitors, more door locks, and low-power sensors. But these piecemeal products are not at the forefront of the Internet of things part of Eggers’ brain.

That space is occupied by what he calls the “control point” of all these things, for each person.

“We’re trying to figure out, really, where all these things get connected and where the opportunities are, frankly,” Eggers said in a phone interview with VentureBeat.

In line with the much parroted software-is-eating-the-world logic, Eggers is betting that the control point will turn out to be in a person’s phone rather than on a separate, wholly new device for the home.

“The penetration of smartphones is pretty high,” he said. “… Why isn’t the control point just your mobile phone? It has all the radios in it that you need. It has all of the software you need.” It’s reasonable to think of them as a solid landing pad for all the data and analytics from the Internet of things devices a person owns or uses.

Then again, Eggers could be wrong about that bet. It’s possible, albeit less likely, that a standalone device could become a popular Internet of things control point, he said.

There’s a question of whether the control-point slot in the Internet of things represents an opportunity for Eggers and other investors. “All these startups that want to be the control point in the home — I just don’t think the big guys are going to give away that real estate so easily,” he said. In other words, it might be challenging and capital-intensive, but some startups might just have a shot at hitting the jackpot as sellers of control points for the internet of things.

So founders had better get cracking — and they shouldn’t be surprised if they end up short on cash.


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