Smart home services company Plume blooms with $300M boost from SoftBank
Plume — an AI-powered cloud platform that manages more than 1 billion unique devices globally — recently revealed a $300 million new capital injection from a new round of minority equity investment led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. SoftBank, which estimates that 1 trillion connected devices will create $11 trillion in value by 2025, is putting its money, via this funding, into expanding the broadband connectivity and IoT industry on an enormous scale.
This round increases Plume’s valuation by over $1 billion, bringing it to a total of $2.6 billion, with $697 million raised to date. In February of this year, the communications startup reached unicorn status with a $270 million funding at a $1.35 billion valuation.
In a recent interview with VentureBeat, Plume’s founder and CEO, Fahri Diner shared what this investment means for Plume as a broadband connectivity company. Diner noted that as a company with high growth margins and a focus on innovation, this funding will ensure the company invests more aggressively in R&D to help expand its product and service portfolio.
In-home connectivity services
Diner noted that the pandemic taught us that having reliable, secure connectivity and good overall experiences in our homes is a must-have. He said, “In the old days, people thought that in order to have the best connectivity and the best experiences on video, et cetera, you needed to be at work. That’s no longer the case, as you know.”
The company sees a “massive market opportunity” among the 20,000 communications service providers (CSPs) in existence. “While we have about 240 of them today and are growing fast, we are barely getting penetrated relative to the size of the market,” Diner said. “We have this phenomenal opportunity together with a partner like SoftBank to continue to push on all the dimensions for growth.”
“The game has moved into the living room, beyond simply providing connectivity to the home to the set of services you can offer to consumers in the home. These are things like managed Wi-Fi, parental controls, access controls, motion sensing, device security, and so on. So, I think both the CSPs and over-the-top service providers like big tech — whether it’s Amazon, Google, or others — are all eyeing in-home services. So, this is a key growth area for everyone.”
IoT device adoption in 2022
According to Diner, the company has taken the leadership position in smart home services — a core element of the overall connectivity experience in the home. After surpassing 1.2 billion connected devices on Plume’s cloud-controlled software-defined network, he believes there is still greater potential for adoption in 2022, for the next era of personalization.
“We believe that relative to what we’ve seen over the last twenty years, where the need of the consumer in the home was performance, driven by entertainment and social, moving forward into the next phase, the need of the consumer in the home is around personalization,” Diner said. “People want personalized cross-device experiences. And that’s driven by the number of devices we have in our homes now — what industries like to call the IoT ecosystem.”
“In that context, the technologies and enablers moving forward are no longer silicon and faster speeds but data, cloud, and AI,” he said. And data, cloud, and AI are the critical elements that the company says it is exploiting for the next era of personalization, to enable an “awesome” 360-degree experience for the consumer. Diner added that these elements — besides leveraging open source technology — will reduce cost and thus allow many more people to have access to the company’s products and services.
2021 Q4 expectations
Against the backdrop of this recent funding, Plume says it will make two fairly major product announcements this quarter. However, Diner noted that these initiatives have been on the roadmap for quite a while.
“What I can say is that we are making some product announcements and, because of this funding, partially, we are going to accelerate our innovation even more. So, you’ll see significant news and interesting product offerings from us in 2022 as well,” he added.
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