Ex-Gooee boss resurfaces at a cloud computing company

Dec. 29, 2021
Gooee had morphed into a would-be IT company anyway. Now, Neil Salt can plunge right into the bits and bytes at London-based Evrythng, no lighting required.

Let’s say you are the CEO of a lighting company that’s blazing trails into the Internet of Things (IoT) world, rebranding the notion of illumination to the point where luminaires become more associated with information technology than they do with the quaint old notion of providing light.

Where would you turn for work if your company goes bust? Would you head to another company in your nominal field of lighting?

Quite possibly not. Among other reasons, your now-defunct company might have been a “lighting” outfit by name, but in actuality, it was an info tech enterprise. And by now, you yourself have built up a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of data collection and analytics, by virtue of using lights as mere nodes in the broader pursuit of gathering information insights.

That certainly was the case with the late, great IoT lighting pioneer Gooee, which by the time it went bust earlier this year, was identifying itself as a smart building technology company. Sure, it could still provide you with lights that would become part of the data network. But lighting had become somewhat secondary to its mission. It eventually no longer featured in Gooee’s headline marketing material and mission statements, and sometimes didn’t factor into the deals that Gooee managed to scrape together.

So it is no surprise that Gooee’s indefatigable former boss Neil Salt, once a vocal leader of the smart lighting movement (and probably still a believer), has now resurfaced…at a cloud computing company.

Salt has quietly joined London-based Evrythng as chief marketing officer. He is now spreading the message about Evrythng’s mission to equip retailers with handy data-based business revelations gleaned from information gathered by digitizing the physical goods that the retailers make and sell.

It’s a message that’s not far off the one that Gooee used to deliver, except it does not come directly from a legacy of lighting.

Evrythng claims to apply the latest technologies in the IoT, blockchain, machine learning, and big data analytics.

Those technology areas would in many instances be familiar to Salt, whose 22 years in the lighting world — 18 with Aurora Lighting and about 4 with its sister company Gooee — gravitated more and more to the IT use of lighting.

In fact, Salt would have started familiarizing himself a few years ago with Evrythng’s stable of cloud technologies. Back in 2017, Evrythng took an equity stake in Gooee, with Gooee agreeing to purchase Evrythng technologies. Evrythng founder and CEO Niall Murphy also took a seat on the Gooee board.

Murphy is now Salt’s new boss.

Meanwhile, the list of creditors owed money by Gooee includes cloud computing firms such as Amazon Web Services. Evrythng does not seem to have surfaced as a creditor.

While Gooee did not survive in the challenging new world of IoT lighting, the IoT remains a great hope for many lighting companies.

Atlanta-based Acuity Brands, for example, has emphasized its information technology push perhaps more than its lighting endeavors. Earlier this year, it picked up equity interests in what it described as artificial intelligence companies, via a deal with Seattle-based incubator Rockpile Ventures.

Lighting plays a key role in indoor positioning systems that Finnish room management and lighting software firm Mount Kelvin is providing to hotels, using a combination of Wirepas and Bluetooth technologies. Mount Kelvin also uses Wirepas technologies for lighting controls as well.

But the IoT lighting application in general has progressed slowly, as lighting firms often find themselves competing against IT firms. Gooee is not the only company to have misfired. Travails in smart lighting contributed to the ongoing withdrawal of Osram — now ams Osram — from the sector.

MARK HALPER is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist ([email protected]).

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About the Author

Mark Halper | Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist

Mark Halper is a freelance business, technology, and science journalist who covers everything from media moguls to subatomic particles. Halper has written from locations around the world for TIME Magazine, Fortune, Forbes, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Guardian, CBS, Wired, and many others. A US citizen living in Britain, he cut his journalism teeth cutting and pasting copy for an English-language daily newspaper in Mexico City. Halper has a BA in history from Cornell University.