Netatmo enters the smart door lock space with programmable NFC keys

Netatmo, the French startup that got acquired by Legrand, is announcing a new device at CES, the Netatmo Smart Door Lock. You can install it as a replacement to any cylinder door lock, which are more common in Europe than U.S.-style deadbolts.

Compared to many smart door locks, Netatmo isn’t as heavy-handed as other solutions as you can use both your phone and a physical key to open your home. You don’t have to switch to a code-based system or rely entirely on your phone.

But the key isn’t a traditional key. It’s an NFC badge shaped like a key, which means that you can program the lock to authorize the key or not. For instance, if you lose your key, you can deactivate it in the Netatmo mobile app. You can also use the same key for multiple doors — your front door, your back door, your office door, etc.

When it comes to digital keys, you can invite as many people to your home as you want so that they can unlock the door with a digital key. Home owners can also send invites to guests. This way, you don’t have to make sure that the first person to get home has the key.

And of course, digital keys are a great solution for Airbnb guests. You can grant access to a guest for a couple of days and disable the digital key when your guests are gone.

Netatmo has received three certifications that assess that its door lock can resist physical and electronic attacks — A2P*, BZ+ and SKG***. In particular, Netatmo uses Bluetooth and not Wi-Fi. This way, the lock isn’t connected to the internet directly and key data is stored on the door lock storage.

The physical keys are tamper-proof in order to make it harder to duplicate them (but you should still disable keys if you lose them of course). Finally, Netatmo has put an accelerometer in the device to detect break-in attempts.

Battery is supposed to last two years, there’s no subscription fee and the device works with HomeKit. Netatmo hasn’t shared any information when it comes to pricing and availability.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

Nvidia’s new 360Hz G-Sync displays are tailor-made for esports

Nvidia has developed new technology that enables 360Hz refresh rates on PC displays, achieving unprecedented responsiveness that’s perfectly suited to esports, where any advances in terms of refresh speeds can translate to improved performance during play.

Nvidia’s new G-sync tech that delivers the 360Hz refresh speeds will be coming to market first through a partnership with Asus, via the Asus ROG Swift 360 monitor that’s debuting at this week’s annual CES show in Las Vegas. It works in combination with Nvidia’s RTX line of GPUs, and will provide refresh rates that translate to less than 3 milliseconds of input latency, all available on a 24.5-inch, fully 1080p HD gaming panel.

Nvidia’s G-Sync tech debuted in 2013, and works by introducing Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) that syncs up the refresh rate of the display (provided it’s G-sync certified) with the GPU’s frame rate, so that you get optimized performance. Since its debut, Nvidia has been especially focused on optimizing G-Sync and its features for use by esports players and professionals, to ensure best possible reaction times in genres like shooters where every millisecond counts when it comes to aiming at and actually hitting your target.

The Asus ROG Swift 360 monitor will be coming out sometime “later this year,” and pricing isn’t yet available but you can bet it’ll be more than your average gaming monitor, given its advanced performance features and esports target market.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

Arlo adds a big passive-aggressive floodlight to its camera so that you can scare your neighbors

Arlo, the security camera makers that spun out of Netgear, has announced a new device at CES in Las Vegas. The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight, as the name suggests, looks a lot like the existing Arlo Pro 3. But instead of the tiny integrated spotlight, it features a gigantic LED-enabled floodlight.

The new device features a 2K HDR camera with a 160-degree field of view. It also has a color night vision as well as a more traditional black-and-white night mode. You can both listen to what’s happening and talk to the person waiting in front of your door thanks to two-way audio. It also has a built-in siren to scare your entire neighborhood like there’s a big fire going on.

The floodlight can be enabled manually or activated by motion. Motion activation could be particularly useful for people who want to replace the light above their garage door for an all-in-one security-and-light solution.

While you can wire it directly to your home, the device also features a rechargeable battery in case you don’t want to drill holes.

The camera has an ambient light sensor so that the light only works at night. You can configure a specific threshold to save battery and customize the pattern of the light. There are three modes — constant, flashing and pulsating. Let’s hope it doesn’t lead to epileptic seizures.

Like other Arlo devices, it is compatible with the Arlo Smart subscription. You can expect cloud recording, object detection and intelligent alerts for $3 to $15 per month.

The Arlo Pro 3 Floodlight will be available at some point during Spring 2020 for $250.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

CrowdStrike’s CEO on how to IPO, direct listings and what’s ahead for SaaS startups

A few days before Christmas, TechCrunch caught up with CrowdStrike CEO George Kurtz to chat about his company’s public offering, direct listings and his expectations for the 2020 IPO market. We also spoke about CrowdStrike’s product niche — endpoint security — and a bit more on why he views his company as the Salesforce of security.

The conversation is timely. Of the 2019 IPO cohort, CrowdStrike’s IPO stands out as one of the year’s most successful debuts. As 2020’s IPO cycle is expected to be both busy and inclusive of some of the private market’s biggest names, Kurtz’s views are useful to understand. After all, his SaaS security company enjoyed a strong pricing cycle, a better-than-expected IPO fundraising haul and strong value appreciation after its debut.

Notably, CrowdStrike didn’t opt to pursue a direct listing; after chatting with the CEO of recent IPO Bill.com concerning why his SaaS company also decided on a traditional flotation, we wanted to hear from Kurtz as well. The security CEO called the current conversation around direct listings a “great debate,” before explaining his perspective.

Pulling from a longer conversation, what follows are Kurtz’s four tips for companies gearing up for a public offering, why his company elected chose a traditional public offering over a more exotic method, comments on endpoint security and where CrowdStrike fits inside its market, and, finally, quick notes on upcoming debuts.

The following interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

How to go public successfully

Share often

What’s most important is the fact that when we IPO’d in June of 2019, we started the process three years earlier. And that is the number one thing that I can point to. When [CrowdStrike CFO Burt Podbere] and I went on the road show everybody knew us, all the buy side investors we had met with for three years, the sell side analysts knew us. The biggest thing that I would say is you can’t go on a road show and have someone not know your company, or not know you, or your CFO.

And we would share — as a private company, you share less — but we would share tidbits of information. And we built a level of consistency over time, where we would share something, and then they would see it come true. And we would share something else, and they would see it come true. And we did that over three years. So we built, I believe, trust with the street, in anticipation of, at some point in the future, an IPO.

Practice early

We spent a lot of time running the company as if it was public, even when we were private. We had our own earnings call as a private company. We would write it up and we would script it.

You’ve seen other companies out there, if they don’t get their house in order it’s very hard to go [public]. And we believe we had our house in order. We ran it that way [which] allowed us to think and operate like a public company, which you want to get out of the way before you come become public. If there’s a takeaway here for folks that are thinking about [going public], run it and act like a public company before you’re public, including simulated earnings calls. And once you become public, you already have that muscle memory.

Raw numbers matter

The third piece is [that] you [have to] look at the numbers. We are in rarified air. At the time of IPO we were the fastest growing SaaS company to IPO ever at scale. So we had the numbers, we had the growth rate, but it really was a combination of preparation beforehand, operating like a public company, […] and then we had the numbers to back it up.

TAM is key, even at scale

One last point, we had the [total addressable market, or TAM] as well. We have the TAM as part of our story; security and where we play is a massive opportunity. So we had that market opportunity as well.


On this topic, Kurtz told TechCrunch two interesting things earlier in the conversation. First that what many people consider as “endpoint security” is too constrained, that the category includes “traditional endpoints plus things like mobile, plus things like containers, IoT devices, serverless, ephemeral cloud instances, [and] on and on.” The more things that fit under the umbrella of endpoint security, CrowdStrike’s focus, the bigger its market is.

Kurtz also discussed how the cloud migration — something that builds TAM for his company’s business — is still in “the early innings,” going on to say that in time “you’re going to start to see more critical workloads migrate to the cloud.” That should generate even more TAM for CrowdStrike and its competitors, like Carbon Black and Tanium.


Why CrowdStrike opted for a traditional IPO instead of a direct listing

CES awards cannabis company then bans it from mentioning cannabis when exhibiting

Keep Labs won an Innovation Award Honoree award for CES 2020 but is banned from saying the word “cannabis” on the CES show floor. The CTA, the trade group behind CES, told Keep Labs it could only exhibit if the company’s signage, marketing materials and the product is free from cannabis product and paraphernalia.

To be named as an honoree is a significant honor for any company, but with Keep Labs, it’s historic. Keep is a product designed explicitly for cannabis, and this is the first time a company centered around marijuana has won an award from CES.

Because of the strict guidelines, Keep Labs decided it wasn’t in its best interest to exhibit at CES despite winning one of its top awards. The company is currently featured on the CES website, among other Innovation Award Honorees, where the word “cannabis” is used throughout the description.

Keep smart storage

Keep is a discreet desktop storage device designed to keep cannabis fresh and locked away. It looks like a smart speaker with a clock, but if you engage the biometric lock, the top opens, revealing several storage containers for cannabis products. With mobile alerts, a built-in scale and a hermetic seal, the device is purpose-built to be an ideal spot to store and secure weed.

The company was founded by two Canadian dads looking for a more secure way to store edibles. Their story is familiar: A friend unknowingly consumed cannabis gummies from an unmarked container. This led the founders to try to find a safe place to store cannabis items. Unable to find such a device, Ben Gliksman, a venture capital attorney with 10 years of experience, and Philip Wilkins, who previously built and sold two companies, set out to build their own.

Available in chalk white and slate black, the device is beautiful and achieves its goal of securing cannabis without hiding. This storage container would look at home on a bedside stand or hallway table.

Facial recognition keeps the device locked. If Keep is tampered with, the owner gets a smartphone notification. An airtight seal keeps things fresh and contains odors. Inside, separate containers keep things organized. There’s even a removable rolling tray and space for accessories. A battery allows owners to use the device anywhere.

This is Keep Labs’ first product, and the company is conducting its own fundraising campaign. At the time of writing, the Keep is available for pre-order for CAD 199.

The CTA awarded Keep Labs the Innovations Award Nominee honor on October 15. On December 4, the CTA gave the company the restrictions on exhibiting.

I spoke with Keeps Lab co-founder Philip Wilkins after the company first heard of the restrictions. At that time, in early December, the company still planned on attending and exhibiting the award. Later, the company had a change of heart.

Now, Wilkins tells TechCrunch that without being able to mention or talk about cannabis, they wouldn’t be doing the brand justice. The CTA had lumped them in with “storage solutions and appliance for the home.” Shying away from cannabis goes against everything they believe in. They aren’t a home storage solution, the company says, and that’s not why they won the award.

There’s a stigma around cannabis tech, Wilkins said, adding Keep Labs’ product is lumped in with “bongs and blunts.”

The company’s ban from CES is the latest hurdle facing Keep Labs. The company previously attempted to list its product on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but neither platform would allow it, because of the word “cannabis.”

Instead, the company launched a self-run crowdfunding campaign. Right now, 805 backers have pre-ordered the device for CAD 199. The campaign is at 77% with just under two months to go before the self-imposed deadline of March 1, 2020.

Wilkins told TechCrunch the company is in the middle of mass-producing the product and looking for additional distribution channels, as well as venture capital investors who understand the need and cannabis space.

CES, Las Vegas and cannabis

Cannabis and e-cigarette products are historically banned from CES. Vape makers like Pax and Puffco and Juul have been unable to exhibit, but with the Keep Labs award, it felt like the CTA was softening its stance. After all, Keep Laps doesn’t make a consumption product, but rather a storage product. The distinction seems significant.

The trade association issued TechCrunch the following statement: “There are no cannabis or e-cigarette products on the exhibit floor at CES, as the show does not have a category pertaining to that market. Given cannabis is not a category at CES, the company was able to exhibit under the terms they’d showcase their product as a storage device,” adding later “Keeps Lab (sic) fit in the Home Appliances category for the Innovation Awards.”

Exhibiting at CES can lead to significant growth for companies. Buyers, distributors and bankers alike attend the show in the hopes of adding companies and products to their portfolios. For a startup like Keep Labs, it can lead to retail distribution, financial capital and valuable industry partners. And being nominated as an Innovation Award Nominee shines a spotlight, making deals even more accessible.

More than 180,000 people attended last year’s show, including over 6,500 members of the media.

There are other ways of being at CES than through conventional means. Many companies take up private spaces throughout Las Vegas, in hotel rooms, and in other conference centers. This lets companies access the CES attendees in more private settings. However, by nature, these spaces are invite-only, which eliminates a lot of opportunities for the companies.

For cannabis companies, renting a hotel room bypasses the CTA’s rules, but not Nevada state laws. In the state of Nevada marijuana is legal to consume in private residences, but banned from consumption in parks, dispensaries and hotels. This means there isn’t — really — a place Las Vegas visitors can legally consume cannabis. And for cannabis companies looking to make deals, there are few legal locations where they can demonstrate their products.

Banned tech

This incident smells familiar. In the run-up to the 2019 show, the CTA awarded sex-tech startup Lora DiCarlo with the same award, only later to rescind it. The CTA told TechCrunch at the time that the Lora DiCarlo Osé does not fit into existing product categories, and the company should not have been accepted for the Innovation Awards Program.

The CTA drew widespread criticism for revoking Lora DiCarlo’s award.

TechCrunch confirmed at the time the CTA also prohibited Lora DiCarlo from exhibiting at CES, citing the company doesn’t fit a product category. However, other sex tech companies were on the show floor that year.

Past CES shows featured sex tech companies, including a virtual reality porn company in 2017 and a sex toy robot for men in 2018. This year’s show will be sexual wellness company OhMiBod’s tenth year exhibiting at CES. In years past, the company launched wellness products, including a Kegel exerciser and, in 2019, when Lora DiCarlo was banned, an Apple Watch-controlled vibrator.

“There is an obvious double-standard when it comes to sexuality and sexual health,” Lora DiCarlo founder Lora Haddock wrote last year. “While there are sex and sexual health products at CES, it seems that CES/CTA administration applies the rules differently for companies and products based on the gender of their customers. Men’s sexuality is allowed to be explicit with a literal sex robot in the shape of an unrealistically proportioned woman and VR porn in point of pride along the aisle. Female sexuality, on the other hand, is heavily muted if not outright banned.”

In the CTA’s letter to Lora DiCarlo, obtained by TechCrunch, the CTA cited a clause that explained how entries deemed “in their sole discretion to be immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with the CTA’s image will be disqualified. CTA reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entry at any time which, in CTA’s opinion, endangers the safety or well being of any person, or fails to comply with these Official Rules. CTA decisions are final and binding.”

CES or bust

The cannabis market is exploding. In the United States, the substance is legal in 11 states, with Illinois becoming the latest to allow the sale and consumption for recreational use. Public support for legal pot hit an all-time high in 2019, according to this CBS News Poll. More than 30 states have legalized it to some degree, and more will follow.

Recreational cannabis is legal in Canada, where Keep Labs is based.

The sheer demand raises the question of the CTA’s slow acceptance of cannabis-related products. As a trade group, it’s tasked with promoting policy that leads to growth within the consumer electronics world, and cannabis tech is quickly becoming a lucrative industry with broad acceptance across demographics.

Someone within the CTA sees the appeal of the Keep device. By awarding it with one of its top honors, the CTA is celebrating the responsible use of cannabis. And yet, by requesting the company hide its intended purpose while exhibiting, it is seemingly forcing cannabis back into the shadows.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch