An Interview With Control4 CEO Martin Plaehn: "The Connected Home is Happening"
At the recent HTSA Fall Conference in Chicago, we had the opportunity to sit down with Martin Plaehn, the chief executive officer of Control4. We discussed the company's plans for this year and next, its recent acquisition of Extra Vegetables and life as a public company. This is a transcript; some sections have been edited for the purpose of clarity.
Technology Integrator: I just wanted to ask a bit about what Control4 has going on this year, this fall and this year, and what your goals are for what you have going on.
Martin Plaehn: Well, that's a pretty broad question. Our aim is to be the best in the industry at delivering solutions for the automated home. We really focus on the family, not just the tech geek or the technical sponsor of the purchase. We [want to] make entertainment systems really accessible to the entire family. And their guest- even their mother-in-law and the babysitter. And make lighting systems really smart, and energy-efficient, and have them work with the blinds and the window treatments and the heating systems. This year has been all about software, for us- getting our software and user experiences and personalization interaction really fluid, getting out architecture underneath- since we operate with lots and lots of different devices- getting that more modern.
When we started the company, a TV was a TV and a receiver was a receiver. Today, a TV is a TV and a video streaming media player, and a receiver is a receiver plus a video switch plus an audio and sometimes a video streaming service. So that abstraction models within our software have to change. Because what used to be three devices are now one, or what didn't exist now exists within one device. We are expanding our business, we have spent a lot of time opening offices in places like China. We have training center there, we decided to go single-tier- we used to be two-tier distribution in China and we did the same thing in India. A few years ago we did the same thing in the U.K., where we linearized it, and the U.K. now is our fastest-growing region, with growth probably well over 50 percent year over year, staggering. Lighting is a big deal for us, we put a lot of energy into panelized lighting solutions, and intelligent lighting is catching.