Yesterday, Acuity Brands announced Peter Han, co-founder of Rockpile Ventures, as President of Acuity’s newly named Intelligent Spaces Group (ISG). Acuity also announced the acquisition of his company, Rockpile Ventures. It is hard to grasp the concept of a lighting company acquiring an AI accelerator, but it may be the most significant acquisition in our industry in the past 50 years.
Peter granted me a quick interview and as we discussed the strategy it began to make a lot of sense.
Peter explained that Rockpile Ventures was formed in mid-2019 to find the best and brightest Edge AI startups. Rockpile assists them with co-engineering and co-selling. He explained, “Many of these companies have huge ambitions, but have trouble gaining scale. We connect them to big cloud ecosystems like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud Platform to accelerate their growth.” He further explained that many startups can be thought of a science experiments with room to improve in go-to-market. Rockpile helps unlock their access to enterprise customers at scale.
Rockpile Ventures will continue as a wholly owned company of Acuity Brands, and the transaction has already closed. I asked Peter to share ideas for future products or services that we should expect. He explained, “I don’t want to pre-introduce any products or technologies, but we are moving to a world where the best companies are transforming at scale.” He went on to say, “With great human guidance, building systems can sense, think, and act. We are looking for systems that help with temperature controls, HVAC, Lighting, and Security, and we want to make spaces smarter, safer and greener.”
I asked about future acquisitions and would Rockpile consider investing in a startup that had no clear benefit to Acuity. He said, “We are first and foremost Acuity employees, and our goal is to drive value for Acuity, and we will continue to look for new companies.” He also said that with Atrius and Distech, Acuity has been partnering with the best technology and will continue to do so.
Acuity now inherits the Rockpile portfolio of companies and Peter would not elaborate on any current early-stage startups, but he did say that a couple of portfolio companies have experienced nine-figure funding rounds (>$100,000,000).
Congratulations to Acuity Brands and Rockpile Ventures—a match that I never would have imagined.