Centralite, an Alabama-based connected products company, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last month. The company had been a mainstay of early connected home systems such as Lowe’s Iris, Zonoff’s, and even early iterations of Comcast’s smart home service. It made everything from sensors and thermostats to keypads and lighting systems.
But in early February, it filed for Chapter 7 protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of Alabama, seeking to dissolve its business. In U.S. law, companies file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Those filing for Chapter 11 are seeking to reorganize their debts, repay them, and re-emerge, while those filing for Chapter 7 are seeking an orderly dissolution of their business, which involves selling their assets to cover their debt.
Centralite had been providing products to the home automation world since 1997, when it launched a whole-home lighting control system. In 2007, it launched a ZigBee-based lighting system and began branching out into other home automation products sold into the hospitality and, eventually, the cable business.
Customers included iControl (which sold home automation systems to cable providers and was later purchased by Comcast), Comcast, and Lowe’s Iris system. Originally, I suspected that the death of Lowe’s Iris system was behind the bankruptcy, but it turns out that most of the firms’ customers — including Lowe’s — stopped using its gear years before the bankruptcy filing.
Comcast used to rely on Centralite for its keypads and a lamp module, but swapped out keypads a few years back. It does still offer a Centralight module to remotely control lamps on its site, but a source who didn’t want to be named inside Comcast said the company would look at replacing that module with one from another vendor.
Centralite reported (PDF) debts between $1 million and $10 million and assets of less than $50,000.
Calls to the lawyer representing Centralite were not returned. Messages left on the Centralite accounting voicemail were not returned. Companies who want to file a claim against Centralite have until May 28 to do so. Creditors include Arrow Electronics, American Express, Google, DigiKey, and company executives.