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Inside Control4’s Ihiji Acquisition

Ihiji CEO Stuart Rench and Control4's senior vice president of marketing Susan Cashen share insight on the background and implications of the January 3 announcement.

Control4 is starting off 2018 on an optimistic note with the announcement on January 3 that the company has acquired remote management expert Ihiji, a deal that closed out on December 22, according to Ihiji co-founder and CEO Stuart Rench.

“I’ve known and been partnered up with Control4 really since some of the earliest days of Ihiji, so our paths have continuously crossed,” Rench said. “I’ve become friends with Martin [Plaehn, CEO of Control4], saw him as a mentor. And along the way, we finally saw a moment that the stars aligned.”

The deal unites Ihiji’s experience in third-party device management with Control4’s existing management capabilities of its BakPak system—which it added via acquisition of Pakedge in February of 2016—with the goal of strengthening Control4’s networking capabilities and improving the lives of both companies’ dealers.

“Today marks yet another big milestone in our march toward really leading the industry in solution sets that are effective tools for dealers to not just have the equipment to set up a great network, but also to have the industry’s best remote management platform,” said Susan Cashen, Control4’s senior vice president of marketing. “We believe by taking what Stuart’s team has built with Ihiji with what we’ve built with BakPak, and combining them into an integrated platform, we really are going to deliver unparalleled capabilities for technicians in the CI space.”

According to Cashen, the acquisition was not just about adding Ihiji’s existing technology, but the engineers who created it—who will help accelerate Control4’s development of the integrated platform, which is planned for release later this year.

“Exceptional engineering talent is unbelievably important, and that’s what was attractive to us with this partnership and the acquisition,” Cashen said. “We’re really excited that Stuart and his product team—both on the engineering side and on the product management side—are joining our networking group.”

Cashen said that Rench and his team will remain at their offices in Austin, TX, and will work closely with Control4’s Huntington Beach group, a lot of whom are former Pakedge employees, as well as leveraging Control4’s hardware and software testing resources from its Salt Lake City, UT facility.

Until the arrival of the unified platform, dealers of both Control4’s BakPak and Ihiji’s Invision are encouraged to continue selling the platforms, the latter of which will now be offered without license fees. According to the company, all existing Invision monitoring installations will automatically be converted to a license that does not require a recurring fee. No action is required by a dealer to transition individual projects. For sites that have already expired (either by the dealer or by Ihiji), dealers will need to simply log in to Invision and select the “Control4 – Unlimited” license for each site they wish to reactivate. Even if dealers have allowed all sites to expire, they can once again start using them without purchasing a new license. Also, according to the company, homes monitored by Invision no longer require a separate recurring subscription. The monitoring service capability is now included with each purchase of the Ihiji APP-750, now rebranded as the Pakedge NX-1 Invision Appliance.

Cashen also stressed that when the combined system is eventually released, the transition for dealers and their customers will be easy. “One of the mandates for the development team from the very beginning is that this integrated platform has to enable Pakedge dealers, Control4 dealers, and Ihiji dealers to have the networking devices that they’re relying on—either BakPak or Invision—to be able to upgrade with just a firmware update, so they’re not just left in the dark,” she said. “And so one of the key messages we’re articulating aggressively in the channel is that when we do deliver the integrated platform, all of our dealers will be able to benefit from it.”

For Rench and his company, the acquisition represents an infusion of support to the realization of his design goals. “I’m excited to have the resources and the vision of Control4 working to augment what has been my vision for many years: to bring a really powerful solution to the market that benefits dealers,” he said. “And having the amazing ability to, as we’ve done, remove the licensing fee, it really should just put fuel on the fire to make our dealers so much more successful and live better lives, quite frankly. One of our tenets is to try to let those guys go home at night and enjoy their evening, enjoy their weekend, and this is just going to make that go faster.”

“I want to reiterate how excited we are to be able to take and leverage all that Stuart’s team has developed,” Cashen said. “It’s a pivotal missing component to BakPak, and by combining the best of BakPak with the best of Invision, we’re really excited about the robustness of this new platform that will be coming later. It’s really going to make a huge difference and a big impact for our dealers, and we’re excited for the market to experience that.”