GE exits the lighting business

Savant Systems purchases unit; Schenectady played role in lightbulb development
The General Electric sign in Schenectady from behind in 2014
PHOTOGRAPHER:
The General Electric sign in Schenectady from behind in 2014

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County

BOSTON — General Electric announced Wednesday that a Massachusetts tech firm specializing in smart homes will buy its Lighting business.

GE and Savant Systems have signed a definitive agreement for the transaction but not completed it. They have not yet disclosed financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close later this year.

Under the proposal, the headquarters of GE Lighting will remain in Cleveland and its 700-plus employees will transfer to Savant upon completion of the sale. Savant would gain use of the GE brand under a long-term licensing agreement.

General Electric’s history with artificial light predates the company’s birth in 1892: Founder Thomas Edison patented a bulb in 1879 with a carbon filament. 


Edison’s experiments with filaments continued with later iterations including Japanese bamboo fibers. In Schenectady in 1909, GE researcher William Coolidge made a breakthrough development on the tungsten filament that helped bring the screw-in bulb into the mainstream and become one of the ubiquitous pieces of 20th century life.

Over the course of more than a century, GE manufactured billions of incandescent bulbs, finally halting in 2010 in favor of LEDs and other more efficient forms of lighting.

Savant, formed in 2005, is a fact-growing company whose smart-home portfolio spans security, climate, whole-house entertainment and energy management.

GE CEO H. Lawrence Culp Jr. said in a news release Wednesday that the sale will allow the company to further narrow its attention on the core products that are the focus of the downsized and streamlined conglomerate.

He added: “Together with Savant, GE Lighting will continue its legacy of innovation, while we at GE will continue to advance the infrastructure technologies that are core to our company and draw on the roots of our founder, Thomas Edison.”

Savant founder and CEO Robert Madonna said GE’s prominence in intelligent lighting will help Savant continue its growth.

“Never before has connectivity, security, intelligent lighting and entertainment, all enjoyed within the comforts of home, been more top of mind with consumers,” he said in the news release.

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