GE and the collaborative design company Quirky will expand their partnership and co-develop and launch 30 new Internet-connected home products over the next five years. The partners will also build up Quirky’s WINK app platform, which makes it easy for consumers to access a range of connected products from smartphones and other mobile devices.
GE will also join a group of major VC firms and invest $30 million in seed money in Quirky. The investment is part of a $79 million fourth-round Series D financing that includes Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Norwest Venture Partners, and RRE.
“Invention and manufacturing is GE’s lifeblood,” said Beth Comstock, GE chief marketing officer. “We’ve been impressed by how Quirky opens and speeds invention and making, and we are excited by the response from major retailers and communities so far.”
GE knows Quirky well. Last spring GE opened its patent vault to Quirky’s community of 600,000 designers, and the companies launched a co-branded platform for Internet-connected consumer products in April.
Last week, The Home Depot, Best Buy and other stores started selling the first four GE and Quirky co-branded and WINK-enabled products. They include devices like Egg Minder, an “intelligent” egg tray that tracks the freshness of eggs, and Spotter, a multi-purpose home sensor. Quirky founder and CEO Ben Kaufman says that the line is already a $45 million consumer business.
GE and Quirky plan to develop and launch 30 WINK-enabled products over the next five years. “Our vision is to make the WINK platform the consumer standard adopted by all manufacturers of connected home products,” said Kaufman.
Kaufman launched Quirky in 2009. The company is using a mix of online collaboration, crowdsourcing and in-house design to develop and release new products every week. Anyone can participate by submitting product ideas or by voting and influencing other members of the community on Quirky.com. The creators and influencers of successful products then share revenue with the company.
Top image: GE and Quirky will expand a co-branded line of web-connected consumer products like Nimbus (above). Nimbus is an app-enabled desktop dashboard that keeps track of emails, tweets and online traffic.