Swedish lock giant Assa Abloy acquires smart lock maker August Home

Brian Heater and Ingrid Lunden
Swedish lock giant Assa Abloy acquires smart lock maker August Home

The smart home market continues to heat up, and the legacy giants do not want to get locked out: quite literally. This morning, Assa Abloy, the $23 billion Swedish lock giant that owns Yale and many other brands -- announced that it is buying US-based smart lock maker August Home to double down on new technology.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed but we have asked both August and Assa Abloy and will update this post as we learn more. Pending regulatory approvals, Assa Abloy says the acquisition will close in the fourth quarter of 2017.

August has confirmed to us that co-founder Jason Johnson will remain CEO of August Home, and Yves Behar will continue in his co-founder role as well. The company will keep its branding and operate under the Americas division of ASSA ABLOY.

"I am very pleased to welcome August into the ASSA ABLOY Group. August constitutes a strategic addition to the Group and reinforces our position in the residential smart door market,” Johan Molin, President and CEO of Assa Abloy, said in a statement.

"August Home strengthens our residential smart door strategy with complementary smart locks, expansion into video doorbells and comprehensive solutions for home delivery," Thanasis Molokotos, its EVP and head of Americas added.

The news comes at a tumultuous time for Assa Abloy -- it announced earlier this month that CEO Johan Molin is considering exiting the company next year, although he is still making prominent statements in support of the company's acquisition strategy and future plans, as you can see here.

On the side of August, the startup has had some notable partnerships, but trying to scale a hardware company from the ground up will always be a bigger challenge than partnering with a giant who has the capital and distribution networks in place to help build it.

"We have always admired the design and quality of Yale locks,” said Jason Johnson, CEO of August, in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for us to work with the world’s largest lock and access company."

Assa Abloy is the very definition of an old-guard giant that is now figuring out its steps in a new world very much being shaped by technology. The company has been in business in some form since 1881 (although the currently publicly traded company has been around since 1994). The company employs 47,000 people and has annual sales of about $8 billion.

August, in contrast, has been around since 2013 and has 90 employees. But it has become a market leader in the emerging connected security space, courtesy of its smart home locks and door bells.

The smart lock market is still a relatively nascent area. To put this deal into some context, August Home's revenues for 2018 are expected to be $60 million, Assa Abloy noted today, or 0.75% of Assa Abloy's entire current business. Future projections of the value of this market vary widely: one estimate puts it at $1.17 billion by 2023; another has boldly predicted it will be worth $24 billion by 2024.

August had raised around $75 million in venture funding, with the most recent round closing only in July of this year. It had a long list of investors that included strategics like Japan's KDDI and Qualcomm, as well as Maveron, Bessemer, Rho, Cowboy Ventures and a number of individual investors.

August has been growing fairly quickly on its own in recent years, courtesy of distribution deals with mega-retailers in the U.S. like Best Buy. Back in July, the hardware startup raised a $25 million Series C, with plans to beef up August Access, the company's partner platform. Late last month, it also found a partner in mega-retailer Wal-mart, which announced its intentions to use the company's connected locks as part of its delivery services. Among other things, this deal should increase August's international presence.

Updated with more detail on August under its new owner. We will update this post as we learn more.

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