Venture

Level Home Raises $71M For Smart Locks

This week Level Home came out of stealth with a product (a smart lock) and a huge fundraise ($71 million). The pair caught our attention.

Level Home, founded in 2016 and based in Silicon Valley’s Redwood City, has just a single known capital event, namely its $71 million round. We suspect that the tally is the aggregate result for how much capital the company has raised to date; it’s hard to announce capital while stealth, after all.

Still, it’s an impressive haul for a market category that felt like it lost momentum after Nest was acquired by Google.

Smart Locks

Interest in “smart home” technology waxes and wanes, as we can see from a simple Google Trends search. Notably today, we’re at a lull in domestic consumer interest in the sort of product that Level Home offers. And what sort of device is it?

TechCrunch notes that Level Home’s first product is a smart deadbolt, installable by regular folks with at-home tools, making their doors openable from Apple products as well as with a key. At a price of $249, Level Home is betting that there is strong demand for better locking tech in American homes.

The company’s investor list contains a clue concerning how Level Home intends to approach its market. The investors behind the company’s $71 million in raised capital include Hut 8, Lennar Corporation, and, critically, Walmart.

What’s the deal with Walmart? Well, Level Home is working with the retail Megalodon to let people enter your home to drop things off. Here are its own words:

We’re collaborating with Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, on the launch of their groundbreaking InHome Delivery service. Now you can get groceries delivered straight to your fridge, even if you’re not home. We worked closely with the Walmart team to integrate Level Lock and our cloud technology in a seamless way that enables delivery into your home without asking you to compromise on your home security or design aesthetics.

That context in mind, the company, and its fundraising, make more sense. The smart lock that Level Home sells will allow users to let in folks who are coming around to deliver stuff. If the partnership reaches any sort of initial scale, Walmart drives revenue and Level Home gets a neat sales channel to help it start building a real business.

When I was prepping to write this post, I felt that the entire concept was a bit whacky. Let other people into my house to deliver things? Why would I do that? But it was only a few years ago that many folks were declaiming Uber as unsafe, asking riders if they felt safe getting into the cars of random folks from the Internet. And we all know how that worked out.

Add in the rising popularity of delivery services to the growth of renting amongst the younger generations and you could have a perfect storm of demand for Level Home-style tech. We’ll see. The firm certainly has enough capital to pursue its vision.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

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