Sam Jadallah, an ex-Microsoft executive and the former CEO of a smart lock company that shut down just over a year ago, has a new job: He’ll be leading the home initiatives at Apple, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC. Hiring Jadallah is the latest signal that Apple plans to get serious about its own efforts in the home. Recently, the company acquired a start-up called Pullstring, a start-up that specializes in voice-enabled toys. That purchase could help the smartphone maker become the center of a connected living room.
Jadallah previously ran a start-up called Otto, which made a $700 lock that was backed by the venture firm Greylock. Otto suspended its operations four months after launching its beautifully-designed Bluetooth- and Wi-Fi-enabled luxury lock. In interviews, Jadallah hinted at having found a buyer, which pulled out at the last minute.About 70 percent of the early team behind Otto were actually poached from Apple’s ranks, Jadallah has previously said. The lock was compared favorably by reviewers to the “Apple of smart locks.” It’s not clear whether Jadallah will bring these early employees with him, or will have a fresh mandate to hire. There are currently about half-a-dozen job openings in Apple’s home division.
Apple currently has a host of products geared toward turning a regular house into a smart home, including HomeKit, which is the company’s software used to tie together various third-party products. By using HomeKit with compatible third-party smart home products, like bulbs and smart plugs, users are able to control different aspects of their home via their smartphones. Apple has also introduced its own smart speaker, the HomePod, with voice recognition and Siri-functionality which gives users the power to control their home using voice commands.
When contacted by CNBC, neither Apple, nor Jadallah offered to comment on the hire, but Jadallah has since updated his LinkedIn profile to reflect his new role with the tech giant. CNBC reporter Christina Farr noticed Jadallah’s update and took to twitter to post a screenshot. Jadallah’s profile now reads “Working on Home at Apple,” according to the screenshot.But Apple also competes against rivals like Alphabet and Amazon, both of which have had a head start on moving into the home. All three companies have a combination of hardware and software that controls everything from turning lights on and off using voice, to playing music.