My Cat, the Pixies, and a New Location of Things Platform

Put yourself in this situation:

You’re heading to a really important meeting – one of the meetings where you REALLY need to show up on time, when Murphy’s Law strikes……

It was 2012, my company was being acquired, and we were about to begin the process of due diligence.   I had planned to leave in plenty of time, but as the kids rushed off to school, the front door ended up wide open, long enough for our cat to make his getaway.

Given that our house cat, Ouzo, has never felt the sun on his back or the wind in his fur, this was a family crisis. So I spent a frantic half hour turning the house upside down and inside out, until I finally found him…in stealth mode…smirking in a niche behind our bed that I was previously unaware of.

I got to the meeting late, and as these kinds of meetings go, my team and the acquiring management team spent several hours discussing (in great detail) things that had taken place over the previous ten years.

And then it struck me – how odd it was that technology had moved with such incredible velocity in the digital world, but had lagged so remarkably in the physical world???

It was so easy to locate and retrieve the most obscure digital files, images or documents…about things that happened a decade ago. We could retrieve it, compare it, trend it, and organize it… in a few keyboard strokes.  But in the physical world, there was no equivalent. That seemed like a disconnect that was simply unacceptable.

I ran the meeting to its successful conclusion, but only after I determined to do something about this new “digital divide” I just became aware off.

When my company got acquired a few weeks later, I could focus on the question at hand. It was pretty clear to me that almost everybody could benefit from solving the issue. If I could crack the code on making the physical world digitally structured and organized, there would be no limit to what could be built on that foundation.

Visions of Google Maps danced before my eyes.  Google started out by digitizing the basic, boring map – but on top of that, an explosion of apps were created by a community of developers: navigation, traffic analysis, recommendation engines, trip planners, finding the nearest ATM.  The same could apply to making “things” locatable.

It seemed so obvious, that before I took the full plunge, I decided to go to CES and see why someone hadn’t built it already. In order to register at CES you need a company name.  That night I was going to the Pixies concert, so I had a perfect, lazy solution – which I rationalized by thinking about the magic helper I was looking to build.  (Their iconic song “Where Is My Mind” was also applicable to my nutty vision – in ways I didn’t even realize then…)

Back in 2012 it was still early days for the smart home, wearables and connected lifestyle world.  Even so, I met with some 15 companies – they all told me the same thing:  forget about it.  My idea was a pipe dream.  Nothing existed to deliver anything close to the deadly accuracy I was looking for.  There were also insurmountable challenges with energy efficiency and communication protocols.

That left me encouraged – I had a history of not paying attention when people told me to knock on another door.  In my previous company, we reached over 100 million households, generated over $1 billion of revenues over the years, won two Technical Emmy awards… all with solutions that we were told could not be built.

So this sounded like another worthwhile challenge.

Next I needed a brilliant team.  So I asked around, and a number of people I deeply respected told me I had to talk to Ofer Friedman.  At the time, Ofer was the CTO for Texas Instruments Connectivity Group, and was a true innovator in system design, mobile, networking and algorithms.

We met, and really hit it off. I found Ofer not only to be brilliant, but cool under pressure and sensed he knewhow to check his ego at the door. So, we shook hands, and built an amazing team to figure out how to wrestle the impossible into existence.

We did a lot of tech work before raising money, and when we needed to build a prototype we went to Spark Capital and the Cedar Fund.  Both partners had invested in my previous company, so they knew what they were dealing with.

Two years and many ups and downs later, here we are.

We’ve built what we fondly – and meaningfully – call LoT.  It stands for Location of Things, a platform which builds upon Internet of Things by creating a digital map of physical objects.

We’re pretty proud of what we’re launching.   Small tags that we call – what else?  – Pixie Points or simply “Pixies” that get applied to just about anything.  Because each Pixie is a communication device, we can accurately locate it in your phone’s camera view, using a super-cool augmented reality application.

The physical world can now be located, protected and organized.  You can organize kits, create checklists, and get notified when something is missing.  And that’s just the beginning of a world of things and apps that were simply not possible before we added location to the Internet of Things.

We already have inspired a double-digit crew of brilliant third party developers to work on new apps for our platform, and invite you to join as well. I like to say that “we’ve only just begun”, but jumping from the Pixies to the Carpenters might be too much for just about anyone to take.