Control4 announced today that Charlie Kindel has joined the company as Senior Vice President of Products & Services, which is incredibly exciting news for both Control4 and its installer and customer base.
Prior to joining Control4, Kindel has a 30-year background working with some of the world’s largest and most successful consumer electronics companies. This includes a 21-year stint at Microsoft where he was general manager of the Windows Phone Developer Experience, driving the Windows Phone 7 ecosystem. He also helped create Microsoft’s Premier Supper, Windows home networking, and Windows Media Center.
More germane to this industry, Kindel spent the past five years working at Amazon where he created and led the Alexa and Echo Smart Home program that helped accelerate the growth in smart home visibility as well as catapult the desire for voice control. You might recall that Kindel gave the CEDIA keynote in 2016 titled, “Creating Voice-First Experiences for the Smart Home.”
While a coup for Control4, this news might come as a bit of a surprise to anyone following Kindel’s career as he left Amazon in April 30 of this year, writing on his personal blog, “The pace of the past five years has finally gotten to me and I simply need to catch my breath. I have a car restoration project that is two years behind schedule. My home automation system needs a complete revamp (it's gotten a bit crusty since it was installed in 2001). I was originally just going to take a temporary leave, but I like the idea of having total freedom of thought to decide what's next in my life.”
Kindel says he has already started working on updating that automation system, something his wife referred to as “the stupid house.” He’s replaced all the old components with new Control4, Triad speakers, and Pakedge gear, including multi-room AV distribution, intelligent lighting, security, cameras, and more. Charlie has also been busy getting himself up to speed so he can hit the ground at a full sprint: He has finished the full four days of Control4 Automation Programmer Certification training, where he took and passed the exam, and is nearly completed with PCNA, Pakedge’s Certified Network Administrator training program.
“I’m so passionate about customer experience and creating products that delight customers and developers, and Control4 already does that. Also, it’s a rich environment for innovation; there is so much growth ahead with new products and environments. We want to make the connected home as fluid, exciting, and productive as possible.”
“The idea of the smart, connected home is decades old and has been poised to take off many times,” says Kindel. “It’s gratifying to see individual and industry persistence paying off as connected home solutions are finally hitting mainstream households. However, many products and systems are still too complex and don’t work well across an entire home. By being customer-obsessed, Control4 has become the leader in whole-home connected solutions that are highly-refined, reliable, and simple to use. I’m excited I now get to focus on leading the smart home revolution from this different perspective.”
When asked if he would be leveraging his experience with Alexa and voice control to focus on developing that further with Control4, Kindel says, “Voice control is rapidly improving, with the sophistication of what it understands getting better every quarter. But voice is just a part of the overall puzzle. Voice is a natural user interface and customers find it delightful and simple, but voice is not the only UI. There are lots of scenarios where pressing a button on the wall, a phone, or a remote is just easier, so all of those modalities are important. Fortunately, Control4 already has deep investments in all of those modalities.”
Kindel will be taking on a leadership role within Control4, reporting directly to company CEO, Martin Plaehn. Plaehn comments, “We enthusiastically welcome Charlie to the Control4 team to lead our global product and services organization. Charlie’s successful track record building the world’s most loved consumer and developer products fits perfectly with the Control4 vision.”
Control4 went public in 2013 and has 370,000 homes under management, with 60,000 new installs last year. Since going public, Control4 has purchased five companies (Triad, Pakedge, Ihiji, Leaf, Card Access) and Plaehn says the company has “more cash today than when we went public. Our focus is on delivering compelling solutions for the connected home, and we continue investing heavily in R&D, having spent $45 million in the trailing 12 months. We hope the custom channel and our dealers look at Charlie’s coming aboard as another big investment in the company’s future. He brings talent, experience, and proven judgement. We are unequivocally committed to building the best products and delivering the best user experience and committed to being excellent.”