An Interview with Danny Yu, CEO of Daintree Networks

Danny1.jpgYour humble editor sat down with Danny Yu, CEO of Daintree Networks. Daintree developed networking software, with which they intend to disrupt the lighting industry.  Their wireless system is based on open standards in interoperable forms. What does that mean?

 Danny explained by comparing their system to a home network which connects different devices such as laptops, phones, and tablets that may be different brands such as Dell, Apple and HP.   Their network allows for out-of-the box compatibility.  

Because many lighting devices do not have their own wireless card, Daintree provides a “Swiss Army Knife” receptacle that can be mounted to the luminaires  and connected to their network.  Think about laptops from ten years ago where a wireless card had to be inserted into a port.  Today, almost all laptops have their own wireless technology built-in.  Daintree expects this to occur with luminaires.   Just like a laptop, it is far more cost effective to build the wireless technology directly into the fixture. The plan is that once wireless is commonly available in luminaires the total networking cost will drop dramatically.

Danny2.jpgSome companies use ZigBee-like technology, which reminds me of a leather-like sofa I bought right out of college. Vinyl would have been more accurate.  Think of ZigBee-like as an American making a phone call to Italy.  The parties are on the same network, but they speak two different languages and cannot quite communicate.  Daintree uses true ZigBee allowing communications between all of the devices regardless of the source or the manufacturer.  It can communicate with LED, LEP, Induction, or eHID—all in the same language.    Danny explains that as far as they are aware, Daintree is the only company using open and interoperable form. 

Daintree’s roots are from former HP networking people.  Originally Daintree started as a company to evaluate Zig-Bee connectivity between products and they were the gold standard for testing.  Five years ago the company evolved into developing their own network.  In 2009 they decided to focus on commercial lighting.

The technology is indoor-focused, but can also be used in parking structures.   Their network is best utilized in and around buildings. Typical energy savings are 40% to 70%.  Daintree recently was installed on a job with SMUD, which saved 91% energy and maintenance.

One of the key questions is whether the majority of savings comes from the new technology source, ie. LED, or from the controls.  Danny explained that in most cases the savings are about equal.

Employees:  38

VC’s: Jolimont Capital, based in Australia and Lend Lease, a global property developer and Real Estate Investment Trust. Danny commented that it was great having an investor who was also a customer.