Former Microsoft exec joins Apple’s Home division, previously ran $700 smart lock startup

Apple has hired a former corporate VP at Microsoft and the founder of defunct smart lock brand Otto to lead its smart home efforts. Sam Jadallah updated his LinkedIn page modestly over the weekend shortly after CNBC reported the move, merely listing his role as “Working on Home” at Apple.

Saturday’s report, however, explains that multiple sources within the company confirm Jadallah will be leading Apple’s Home team entirely.

Jadallah was a CVP at Microsoft from 1987 through 1999 according to his public LinkedIn page, and in 2013 founded one of the sleekest yet most expensive smart lock products on the market — Otto.

Ultimately, the $699 Otto never made it to consumer’s hands, as it fell short of shipping a product in the final months before its expected release. Then founder and CEO Jedallah wrote a letter entitled “So Close”, detailing the company’s struggles in failing to bring a hardware product to market as a startup.

In a conversation with TechCrunch, Jadallah made some interesting comments about how to best build and actually deliver on shipping “exciting hardware”.

You’re not in charge of your own destiny, and the margin for error is a lot smaller. Building a really exciting hardware product needs a ton of resources, and is probably best inside of a bigger company.

Jadallah explains how Otto made it as far as the manufacturing stage, however, an unnamed corporate takeover deal that fell through at the last minute placed the little startup on an irreversible downslide. On the final day of 2017, the company shut down permanently.

From CNBC’s report,

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.

Just days ago, Apple reportedly purchased PullString, a voice assistant startup behind enterprise Alexa apps.

And back in December, Apple made quick work of promoting John Giannandrea to SVP of Machine Learning and AI Strategy after just eight months from being hired.

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