Microsoft vets raise $2M to manage internet-connected devices in commercial buildings – GeekWire
Four Microsoft veterans have teamed up to create Optio3, a Seattle-based startup aimed at building a web-based service that helps manage commercial facilities like hotels, offices, universities and malls, with a focus on controlling the myriad internet-connected devices within those facilities.
The startup just reeled in $2 million in angel funding from unnamed sources in the Bay Area, Boston, Chicago and Seattle. It plans to use the funds to boost a private beta program in Washington and California for hotel groups, universities and large office complexes that are looking at ways to reduce operations costs.
“Labor represents over half of (such buildings’) operational costs, and two-thirds of that is devoted to manual, inefficient or reactive tasks,” co-founder Luis Salazar wrote in an email to GeekWire. “Our software enables them to reduce their maintenance cost, run a smoother operation, optimize energy management and manage the lifecycle of all IoT assets from different manufacturers … from any PC, tablet or mobile device.”
The service is intended for use by maintenance technicians, facilities managers and the operations and finance departments of such facilities because “they suffer the unintended consequences of the explosion in the number of devices and the fragmentation among vendors,” said Salazar.
The U.S. alone has more than 5.6 commercial buildings, which are collectively expected to contain more than four billion internet-connected light switches, light bulbs, thermostats, motion sensors, smoke detectors and HVAC systems by 2020, according to Optio3’s website. Inefficiency in managing those devices accounts for more than 30 percent of their operational cost.
Salazar and his fellow co-founders — CEO Sridar Chandrashekar, head of product management Mohan Thimmappa, and business-development head Jake Varghese — all helped Microsoft launch Office Live (now called Office 365) and have a considerable history of working together.
Salazar has held executive positions at Microsoft, Yahoo, Xerox and ABB. He co-founded Jobaline, an online service for hiring hourly workers. Chandrashekar most recently served as VP of IT operations management at cloud-computing company ServiceNow, where he filed 12 patents. Before that he worked at Microsoft for 18 years, most recently as senior director of engineering, focused on cloud infrastructure for Office 365.
Thimmappa worked alongside Chandrashekar at ServiceNow, where he was senior director of customer success, and before that headed cloud infrastructure there.
Prior to ServiceNow, he worked at Microsoft for five years as a program manager for Office 365’s cloud infrastructure, again alongside Chandrashekar.
Varghese worked with Chandrashekar and Thimmappa at ServiceNow, as senior director of engineering for IT operations management. Before that, he worked as a group product manager and an engineering manager at Microsoft for 13 years.
Optio3 has two staffers in Santa Clara, Calif., and five in Seattle, with several openings.
Optio3 says it complements Optimum Energy, a Seattle company that specializes in cutting energy consumption in commercial buildings.
“They are focused on energy savings, and we are laser-focused on maintenance management, asset management and operational management,” Salazar said in his email.