Quilt raises $9M seed round to become the Nest of heat pumps

Last year, Americans bought more heat pumps than gas furnaces, a striking split that’s likely to widen in the coming years as consumer awareness and climate regulations foster their uptake.

Heat pumps are already widely used to cool homes across the Southeast, and they’re making inroads in the Northeast and Midwest, where consumers are warming to the concept of using one device for both heating and cooling. But despite their growing appeal, not all consumers are sold on the idea. Some find the technology unfamiliar; others find it unattractive to look at.

Quilt hopes its product can tip the scales. Founded last year by a trio of former Google employees, the startup has been hard at work designing smaller, sleeker and smarter heat pump systems. Today, Quilt is announcing $9 million in a seed round led by Lowercarbon Capital and Gradient Ventures, with participation from Incite Ventures, MCJ Collective, Garage Capital, Climate Capital and Spacecadet.

Many heat pump systems are in fact so-called ductless mini-splits, which are notable for the indoor unit that hangs high on the wall. For the amount of heating and cooling they provide, the indoor units aren’t big, but they’re not sleek either.

“A lot of people, in the purchase process, they get hung up on this idea that they have to put big, ugly white plastic boxes all over their house,” Paul Lambert, co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch+. Many units also use TV-style remotes instead of traditional thermostats, and most aren’t compatible with smart thermostats like Nest. “It feels, in some dimensions, like a step backward.”

The company hopes to follow Nest’s lead and create a smart product that’s defined by better design and consumer friendliness. But where Nest added some smarts to a home’s existing heating and air conditioning system, Quilt hopes to catch consumers as they upgrade the whole thing, leveraging what might be considered an HVAC supercycle. Much like how people upgrade iPhones in waves, the team’s founders think the time is right to dive into the heat pump space.

Quilt raises $9M seed round to become the Nest of heat pumps by Tim De Chant originally published on TechCrunch

Ring’s founder will become Latch’s CEO after selling a stealth startup to the company

Jamie Siminoff has been busy. The Ring founder quietly exited the advisor role he took back in March after exiting the brand’s CEO role. He had been at Amazon since its 2018 acquisition of the firm. Turns out he’s sold yet another startup — this time one you’ve never heard of. The clunkily named Honest Day’s Work (HDW) has been acquired by Latch, best known for its proptech smart lock and corresponding operating system.

As part of the deal, Siminoff will be stepping into Latch’s CEO role later this year, replacing the interim chief exec, Jason Keyes. Siminoff joins Latch during a difficult transitionary period. Almost exactly a year ago, the company announced that it had cut a total of 130 people — around 28% of its full-time roles.

In a letter to Latch staff, then-CEO Luke Schoenfelder explained that the layoffs were carried out to “ensure Latch is on a path to sustainable growth.” This January, Schoenfelder stepped down, along with chief financial officer Barry Schaeffer and chief accounting officer Junji Nakamura.

“From co-founding Latch at my kitchen table to leading it to its current scale, I am enormously proud of the products we’ve delivered for customers” Schoenfelder said at the time, “and I am excited to continue to support Latch’s new leadership team as a proud stockholder and advisor going forward.”

Siminoff’s HDW is a platform targeting “residential service provides, including drivers, dog walkers and housekeepers. It’s easy to see how it might be implemented into Latch’s broader offering, which intends to be a kind of one-stop shop for building management.

“I’m excited to join the Latch team, which has built an incredible offering that users across the country enjoy and benefit from every day,” Siminoff said in a release. “Smart, secure access control is not only fundamental to real estate operators like myself, but also to residents and service providers. I look forward to combining Honest Day’s Work with Latch to build a residential ecosystem that empowers building owners, operators, service providers, and residents alike.”

Per the details of the deal, Latch is acquiring 100% of HDW’s capital stock for 29 million of its own. The company says HDW’s 30 member team will join its own workforce. It expects the deal to be completed in Q3 of this year, pending all of the standard regulatory scrutiny.

Ring’s founder will become Latch’s CEO after selling a stealth startup to the company by Brian Heater originally published on TechCrunch

Logitech launches the Logitech G Cloud gaming handheld in Europe

Logitech is moving forward with its handheld gaming console focused on cloud gaming as the company is about to launch its device in Europe. In addition to this release, the company is still actively releasing software updates for the Logitech G Cloud.

The Logitech G Cloud will become available gradually between May 22 and June 22 in the U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland for €359 or £329. As a reminder, it costs $349 in the U.S. but it is usually on sale for $299.

European customers will get up to six months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (with Xbox Cloud Gaming), one month of Nvidia GeForce Now (Priority subscription tier) and one month of Shadow PC.

When Logitech announced the Logitech G Cloud in September 2022, many people didn’t really understand why people would spend $350 for a portable Android console. Unlike the $299 Switch, you can’t play Zelda on it. Unlike the $399 Steam Deck, you can’t play PC games on the go.

But the answer lies in the name of the device. The Logitech G Cloud has been designed specifically for cloud gaming. By default, the device comes with the Nvidia GeForce Now and Xbox Cloud Gaming apps pre-installed. Logitech even says on its website that its console “requires a cloud subscription service sold separately to work as intended.”

Alternatively, the Logitech G Cloud can be used for remote play. If you already have an Xbox or a PlayStation, you can use the device as a second screen so that you can play outside of your living room. Or it can be used to play PC games streamed from a gaming PC.

Shadow becomes an official partner

The Logitech G Cloud has a familiar design with a touchscreen surrounded by gamepad controls. It has just the right amount of computing power to run cloud gaming services, but nothing extra.

It means the the Logitech G Cloud doesn’t have a powerful APU, a ton of internal storage or a fan to cool the device. Instead, what you get is a nice 1080p 7-inch display, a microSD card slot, a USB-C port, a 3.5mm headphone jack, speakers, microphones and all the buttons that you would expect from a modern gamepad.

Under the hood, the Logitech G Cloud features a mid-range Qualcomm system on a chip (the Snapdragon 720G), 4GB or RAM, 64GB of internal storage, Bluetooth 5.1 and WiFi 5 support — yes, WiFi 6 support would have been nice.

I reviewed the Logitech G Cloud back in October, and it has quickly become my favorite way to play games. In particular, I praised the flexibility of the Logitech G Cloud paired with Shadow PC, a cloud computing service that lets you access a high-end PC in a data center near you.

With this setup, you can install any game on Steam and play them flawlessly while on the couch. The Logitech G Cloud weighs 463g, which is roughly 30% lighter than the Steam Deck. It remains cool and quiet. And the best part is that you don’t have to worry about battery life as all the intensive computing tasks take place on the remote server.

Over the last few months, Logitech has shipped software updates with new features, such as virtual button mapping for touch-based mobile games, customization settings when it comes to sensitivity and dead zones for the analog sticks and L2/R2 triggers, and official support for Shadow PC.

The Shadow PC app will be pre-installed on the Logitech G Cloud in the near future and the built-in controller is now fully supported by Shadow.

Once again, the Logitech G Cloud isn’t for everyone. It works well for people who are already into cloud gaming or who are looking for something designed specifically for this purpose with a large 7-inch display. It’s arguably a niche market, but the Logitech G Cloud fills that gap very well. And now, more people will be able to buy one.

Logitech launches the Logitech G Cloud gaming handheld in Europe by Romain Dillet originally published on TechCrunch

VC funding of women climate tech founders is abysmal. Here’s how it could improve

The venture community has realized several things in recent years: Climate change isn’t going away, and there is a huge opportunity to invest in companies that promise to define entire segments of the future economy.

With a few hiccups along the way, venture dollars have begun to flow with increasing volume and regularity to climate tech startups over the last few years. That capital is adding up; since the start of 2021, climate tech startups have raised $88 billion, according to PitchBook data.

The sector’s potential is practically limitless: the problems presented by climate change will be with us for generations, meaning that solutions could build companies that last for decades, if not hundreds of years. And the slight dip in funding that the climate sector saw last year isn’t indicative of lost investor interest, nor are the slow-pacing Q1 figures; for many, not just those in climate tech, the market is slow.

But just like in other parts of the startup economy, those dollars are far from evenly distributed. Women founders have received just 6.9% of venture dollars in climate tech in Q1, according to Crunchbase, which is down from 8.9% in 2022.

It will take the perspectives and knowledge from all things and all people to tackle our changing planet. But while climate tech and its backers might be experiencing an awakening, founders who identify as women have yet to experience it.

Gender bias is still persistent

“The funding gap is astounding,” Emily McAteer, co-founder and CEO of Odyssey Energy Solutions, told TechCrunch+.

A key driver appears to be the discrepancy in round size between companies with male-only founders and those with mixed-gender or female-only founding teams.

VC funding of women climate tech founders is abysmal. Here’s how it could improve by Dominic-Madori Davis originally published on TechCrunch

Pale Blue Dot continues investing in its climate vision, with a second, $100M fund

Sweden-based VC fund Pale Blue Dot bounced onto the scene in 2020 with a €53 million fund to help climate-focused startups. This fund grew again by €34 million in April 2021, and after deploying investments into 28 climate-forward companies, the investor this week announced it has officially closed its second fund. This one is valued at €93 million (approximately $101 million at today’s valuation), with the same thesis in mind: to support climate tech-oriented startups.

Founded by general partners Joel Larsson, Heidi Lindvall and Hampus Jakobsson, Pale Blue Dot looks to make pre-seed and seed investments in European-based companies, although it is open to deals from the U.S., too.

“Climate tech is here to stay,” says Lindvall in a statement to TechCrunch. “As long as the climate crisis has not been solved, we will need to keep investing more money into tech solutions. This space will continue to see accelerated growth as individuals, corporates and governments try to figure out how to decarbonise and prepare for a new world.” 

The firm prefers to lead rounds, writing checks between €500,000 and €2 million. Out of its 28 investments to date, the firm highlights some examples of what it is looking for in the form of Phytoform, a British-U.S. biotech-agritech business, climate risk data analytics firm Climate X; U.K.-based logistics company Hived, Danish EV charging platform Monta and French fintech firm Green Got. There remain a few investments to be made from the first fund before the firm officially starts deploying funds out of its second investment vehicle. The GPs are aiming to invest in 35 startups with this fund, in sectors such as food and agtech, industry, mobility and fintech, provided that they are focused on making a positive difference toward climate change.

The Pale Blue Dot team. Image Credits: Pale Blue Dot

Larsson, Lindvall, and Jakobsson are all former startup founders themselves, giving them a strong founder focus in the companies where they choose to invest. They are also the only members of the investment team, which doesn’t have a hierarchy. Any startup that is offered a meeting with the GPs meets with all three of them. If they choose to make an investment, then the founders can expect the GPs to work closely with them to help their startups grow and flourish. 

“Receiving interest and recognition from the industry is good,” said Jakobsson, “but the fact that amazing founders keep picking us to be their partners on their journeys is the biggest vote of confidence and why we get up in the morning.” 

The new €93 million fund has been created with investment from serial entrepreneurs, family offices and institutional investors from Europe and the U.S. Roughly two-thirds of the second fund’s LPs were LPs in the first fund, with the new LPs having been invited to join.

Pale Blue Dot tells TechCrunch it is eager to meet with ambitious founders from a diversity of backgrounds who are seeking to tackle climate change with their startups. 

Pale Blue Dot continues investing in its climate vision, with a second, $100M fund by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch