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13 December 2019

Tuya nabs Schneider Electric as later IoT platform customer

Schneider Electric has announced that it is going to be using Tuya’s IoT platform to power its Wiser Home portfolio in APAC. It is the latest success for Tuya Smart, a company that provides wireless modules, bespoke applications, and then the central cloud platform that promises all manner of AI-based wizardry.

Founded in 2014 and headquartered in China, Tuya says it has 180,000 clients in over 190 countries, accounting for 90,000 products (up 300% in a year, apparently) in over 500 categories. It says it is the largest such provider, and can trace its heritage back to PHPWind – a company that Alibaba bought back in 2008, and which Tuya’s founders seem to have stemmed from.

Tuya CEO Jerry Wang had founded PHPWind, along with Tuya President and Chairman Leo Chen. CTO Luckin Zhou, also a Tuya co-founder, worked in PHPWind and Alibaba, while COO and co-founder Alex Yang joined Alibaba in 2011. With a US and an Indian wing, Jeff Immelt, former GE CEO, is Chairman of Tuya’s Global Strategic Committee – officially joining in October.

Immelt is a partner at New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of the major investors in Tuya. Two other NEA staffers sit on this committee of five, with Tuya CEO Wang and Jerome Chevalier, a partner and co-founder of Quadrille Capital – another major investor.

NEA was the only participant in Tuya’s Series A funding round, back in 2015, with Quadrille and three other venture capital firms taking part in the Series B round. Neither of those rounds had figures attached, although are thought to be in the tens-of-millions range, but the Series C round, announced in 2018 just nine months after the B, saw $200mn invested – pushing it into ‘unicorn’ status. An actual concrete valuation doesn’t seem to be available, but north of $2bn seems to be accepted.

So, this is one of the biggest IoT startups out there, and one that many will not have heard of. It is far from the only player in this space, but efforts from the likes of Ayla Networks, and it seems that our warning that considerable consolidation was about to kick off in the platform space was true.

Tuya says its platform (initially built on AWS, it seems, but with a Microsoft Azure option announced in May) serves 80bn daily device requests, with an average response time of 10ms. Ranging from plugs and switches all the way up to large appliances, Tuya says it can provide direct sourcing by ‘connecting factories, brands, and sales channels, with all smart home products including smart lighting, power accessories, security, smart appliances, and more.’ It adds that its partner factories will provide direct OEM purchase services while Tuya secures comprehensive certification to go to market globally.

This is rather a lot more joined up than the platforms offered by Ayla, PTC, and Software AG. Tuya even has a portal that prospective customers can peruse, picking out the devices from these factory partners that might form the basis of a smart home, building, or city offering – which would then be powered by Tuya’s platform.

Tuya also recently announced an integration partnership with Samsung’s SmartThings, which saw the pair create a Works With SmartThings (WWST) certification process, which would allow the two ecosystems to bridge. At the time, Samsung said SmartThings connects over 10mn homes and 45mn active users, with 5,000 compatible devices. After the Tuya integration, that number will get substantially larger. Globe Electric was their first announced joint customer.

As for other clients, some of the more prominent names that Tuya lists include; Siemens, China Unicom, Claro, Haier, Whirlpool, Asus, TCL, Delonghi, Lenovo, and supermarket chain LIDL. The public names are a fraction of the claimed 180,000 clients, but lighting and consumer electronics seem to be especially prevalent. In older announcements, Walmart, Home Depot, and Costco are mentioned as customers, with Tuya helping them build an ‘AI inventory, allowing them to better manage offline supply chains. Japanese real estate specialist Okura also committed to using the Tuya platform in its new smart city ventures.

As for Schneider, “our Wiser Smart Home solution is bringing strong values for our consumers around energy saving, sustainability, comfort, safety and scalability. Thanks to this partnership with Tuya it allows our platform to be very flexible, reliable and cyber secured to the latest standards” said Yan Golaz, SVP Connected Living for Schneider Electric.