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Former OZ Voice Judge, Buys Into SmartHouse Tech Market

Former Voice Australia Judge will.i.am has bought into the SmartHouse market via a struggling Company that may not turns his lights on in either in the short or even long term.

His latest invest is Wink — the smart home hub and platform originally incubated inside the failed connected object maker Quirky, and then acquired by Flextronics (now known as Flex).

Flex disclosed the sale of Wink in its quarterly report published over the weekend, without specifying the buyer.

It noted that the buyer paid $38.7 million upfront for Wink, plus a $20 million commitment towards future manufacturing:

“During the three-month period ended June 30, 2017, the company sold its Wink business to an unrelated third-party venture backed company in exchange for contingent consideration fair valued at $59.0 million and recognized a gain on sale of $38.7 million, which is recorded in Other charges (income), net.”

On the other side of the deal, the detail of the buyer, i.am+, was sent out in a memo from Wink to its users.

The sale is somewhat surprising, given that it was only a year ago that Wink’s founder, Nathan Smith, described how moving to Flex put the company onto more stable footing after a rocky start under the aptly-named Quirky.

Flex had already been manufacturing Wink’s hardware — which includes a smart home hub (similar to Amazon’s Echo or Google’s Home hub) and a touchscreen home controller that link up your various connected objects in your home, from light bulbs to music to apps.

At this stage nothing is known about the product roadmap, although the $20 million in the deal between Flex and i.am+ is likely to keep manufacturing of Wink’s products going. Given that Flex had picked up Wink from Quirky for $15 million, the company has grown its valuation by $23.7 million.

In the sudden surge of home hub devices that let you stitch everything else together in your domestic digital world, Wink’s service has been relatively popular, last year claiming 1.3 million devices connected on its network and 20,000 more coming on each week.

The only problem is that they are going to have to compete up against Amazon, Google, Apple and Samsung in this market.