Maryrose Sylvester and Jeff Bisberg, chief executives of GE Lighting and Albeo respectively, laid out Albeo’s future at a joint press conference Dec. 11 at Albeo’s headquarters in Boulder. The deal was announced Nov. 26. GE is not releasing the price it paid for Albeo.
GE Lighting, a Cleveland-based unit of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), became more interested in Albeo as it started assessing its lighting product line and market trends and saw it had a soft spot in the market for high-bay LED industrial and warehouse lights, Sylvester said. Albeo was “the best in class,” and GE recognized that acquiring Albeo was a good shortcut to enter the segment.
“We knew we could get there in terms of technology. We have hundreds of very good LED engineers around the world,” she said. “Our choices were to do it ourselves and be two years behind a company like Albeo, or see if we could find something to get them to be part of GE and go conquer the market together.
“What Albeo needs are more sales people selling this great technology, and that’s what GE brings.”
Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE was formed by the 1892 merger of J.P. Morgan’s Edison General Electric of Schenectady, New York, and Thomson-Houston Electric Co. of Lynn, Massachusetts. For decades its marketing has used the slogan, “We bring good things to life.”
Founded in 2004, Albeo has about 65 employees, Bisberg said. There are no imminent plans to downsize, consolidate operations or relocate from Boulder, but both executives left the door open for changes in the long term if market conditions warranted them.
Currently, Albeo will continue product development and assembly in Boulder.
“In any business, it’s impossible to predict what will be in the future, but immediately, we’ll be making a lot of fixtures here,” Bisberg said.
GE has operations and about 1,500 employees in Colorado, and GE Analytical Instruments has its main office in Boulder.
Albeo Technologies and GE Lighting will be in the integration phase for a while, and GE has assigned an integration director to the company. For the time being, Albeo is a wholly owned subsidiary and Bisberg remains CEO, he said.
“The synergies continue to mature and develop, and the relationship will evolve,” Bisberg said.
Whether Albeo will retain its name and how its lights are marketed has yet to be determined. The new boss and the old boss seemed to be of differing minds, but not in the way that might be expected.
“Albeo is a name, and a good name, and we don’t want to diminish that,” Sylvester said.
“But GE’s one of the top five brand names known in the world,” Bisberg said. “Even me, as the founder, I came up with the name Albeo. If I had a choice of a name to put on it, why wouldn’t you want one of the top five names in the world on your product? That gets me excited, actually.”
Albeo has been growing rapidly, especially in the past two years.
Albeo has been finding favor with venture capitalists. In March, it raised $8 million in a combination of venture capital and debt-financing. Since its founding, it has raised $12.75 million from Green Spark Ventures, Braymer Energy Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank.
Albeo had been building for the long haul, but the deal with GE presented a situation where the company found the right home and investors received a good return.
“We wanted to build a big business, we wanted to be huge, we wanted to be the envy of large companies,” Bisberg said. “While doing that, I think without purposely doing it, we created some great synergies with the GE team. … It ended up being a match made in heaven thing that really worked out.”