I love LIFX. When I first purchased from them, they were renown for selling the brightest smart bulb on the market. Philips Hue have now taken that crown from them, but LIFX still sell a range of high quality smart bulbs with great color quality and accuracy.
So it has been disappointing to see various rumors about the financial health of LIFX (or their parent company) over the past few years. A bunch of their owner’s directors left in 2021, and in 2022 their parent company – Buddy Technologies – went into receivership in Australia (a bankruptcy process). This begs the question: are LIFX still in business? The short answer is…
After a worrying few months for Buddy Technology, LIFX were purchased by Feit Electric in August 2022 – meaning that LIFX have been protected from any immediate closure risks (in America). However the situation is worse outside of America.
I also discuss this topic briefly in a 1-minute “catch-up” video on YouTube (made before Feit Electric purchased LIFX):
But for the full story, please read on! I’ll start by recapping on who LIFX are.
Who Are LIFX?
LIFX are an Australian smart light manufacturer, launched in 2012 by LiFi Labs. They were a crowd-funded project initially, and for many years they held the mantle of the brightest smart light, at 1,100 lumens – although in recent years, other smart companies have recently launched brighter bulbs.
LIFX sell smart light bulbs, LED lightstrips, anti-bacterial bulbs and more. They are a fairly premium light provider, with their color bulbs often costing $35-40 – much more than budget brands whose color bulbs can cost as low as $10 each.
LIFX were then sold to Buddy Platform/Technologies in 2019, for a little over $50 million. Buddy Technologies were (notice the past tense there?) listed on the Australian ASX stock market, so initially people had high hopes that this purchase would benefit LIFX.
Rumors Of Financial Issues
Not too long after the 2019 sale, Reddit and other sources started seeing more and more people ask whether LIFX were having issues:
It seemed like people had three main concerns:
- Certain products had very low stock.
- The support team’s replies were taking longer and longer, with some people waiting over a year for warranty claims to be approved.
- Concerns about the financial news of Buddy Technologies, the new owners of LIFX.
Some of these issues were related to the pandemic of course (supply chain issues definitely impacted stock levels, and staffing levels were reduced too). But there seemed to be a concerning trend with LIFX nonetheless.
In April 2021, the ASX stock market temporarily stopped trading Buddy’s shares due to concerns about “inflated” revenues being reported by Buddy. This led to ASX launching a probe into Buddy.
Then in mid 2021, there was a concerning announcement about LIFX’s parent company (Buddy). The stock market’s investigation of Buddy (for alleged “inflated revenues”) led to three of Buddy’s directors leaving:
The $130 million industrial analytics and smart lighting company Buddy Technologies has lost all three of its non-executive board directors in a walkout amid a probe into “inflated” revenues by the sharemarket operator.
The three resignations are the latest challenge for the fledgling technology company, which was recently stung by a Chinese semiconductor supplier abruptly selling a big order to a different customer, leaving the ASX-listed company high and dry.Michael Roddan, AFR, June 7th 2021
This naturally isn’t ideal, especially when there’s talk of LIFX losing out on necessary supplies (semiconductors), which could potentially make their stock shortage issues even worse.
April 13th 2022: Parent Company ‘Bankrupt’
ASX continued to be wary of Buddy, and they wrote to the company earlier in 2022 asking on what basis they were a “going concern” – which is a fancy financial way of saying:
“Are you SERIOUSLY still able to be in business?!”
And then on 13th April 2022, various reports emerged that Buddy Technologies are in receivership:
- Receivers take control of Buddy Technologies (ASX:BUD) – The Market Herald
- Buddy Technologies shares unfriended from ASX as receivers move in – The Motley Fool
Whilst this is naturally a big concern for LIFX fans, there was ONE glimmer of hope.
How This Affected LIFX
The receivership statement said that this process applies to Buddy, but not any of the “subsidiaries”. In other words, LIFX can continue as normal.
This is great, because LIFX are fairly cloud based – you have to use the LIFX app to control your LIFX lights and bulbs. So if LIFX were shut down, you wouldn’t be able to control your expensive LIFX products (without exploring HomeAssistant or Hubitat, which I will discuss later on).
And a statement posted by a LIFX representative on Reddit also confirmed this:
We are happy to clarify that LIFX is not in receivership and ‘the lights are not turned off’ as sensationally and incorrectly reported!LIFX rep, Reddit, 15th April 2022
… The Receivers (FTI Consulting) are planning to seek offers for a sale or recapitalisation of the business, in the coming weeks.
That’s pretty good news, of course, but there were still some concerns. What would happen if other buyers weren’t found in time? After all, LIFX can’t run indefinitely when their parent company has ‘gone bankrupt’. In the worst case, LIFX’s servers would have been turned off – meaning that you wouldn’t be able to use the LIFX app or control your smart lights.
We’ll discuss a workaround to this later, but onto the big update – Feit Electric purchased (saved?) LIFX in August 2022.
August 3rd 2022 Update: LIFX Are ‘Saved’? (We Hope)
An update posted on LIFX’s blog in August 2022 shown some good news to LIFX owners: Feit Electric have purchased all LIFX assets from Buddy Technologies.
In other words, the corporate bankruptcy process sold off the good assets (i.e. LIFX), hopefully protecting LIFX from any contagion. Feit Electric are a California based company. and they seem fairly eager to continue bringing out new products and improving the app:
Feit Electric will offer a suite of LIFX products and plans to expand the line with new innovations. In addition, Feit Electric will support and evolve the LIFX app and cloud platform…LIFX blog post, 3rd August 2022
It will be interesting to see how LIFX progress from here. If they can enhance their app (and third party integrations), and roll out some new products, their future could be bright… in America.
August 17th 2022 Update: LIFX UK Are In Administration
Despite Feit purchasing LIFX to much fan-fare, the situation outside of America looks a little bleaker. On August 17th 2022, LIFX’s UK arm went into administration:
Even though Amazon UK are still selling LIFX products, any warranty claims made by British customers are being rejected or put on hold. Instead, British LIFX customers are being told to speak to the administrators.
Lee (in the comments) recently did this, and was told not to expect much from the warranty claim – unfortunately.
This is the problem with a multi-national company that has dozens of legal organisations around the world. Even if it’s ‘saved’ in one part of the world (such as America), it could still result in major issues for customers in other parts of the world.
That brings us onto what you should do if LIFX’s cloud servers get switched off near you…
How to Control LIFX Lights Locally (If Their Servers Are Switched Off)
The big downside of Wi-Fi based smart lights are that they are usually cloud-based, meaning that when you want to control them, you need to use a smartphone app. When you click a button (to change the color or brightness), this request will head through that company’s cloud servers – before finally going to your smart bulb.
Naturally if the cloud servers are turned off, this process can’t occur – and you then are left with ‘smart bulbs’ that are less use than paperweights!
But thankfully some smart home hubs exist that allow for local control of your LIFX bulbs. This basically means that you have a device (or a bit of software) inside your house that can speak directly to your LIFX bulbs.
- HomeAssistant’s LIFX add-on supports all the usual smart bulb features (such as color changing and dimming), along with effects control.
- Hubitat’s LIFX support is a bit more technical, but all the expected features appear to be supported too.
These both support LIFX local control, which is great because if LIFX did turn off their cloud servers, third party integrations like voice control from an Amazon Echo will stop working. So knowing that HomeAssistant and Hubitat will still work is reassuring.
Alternatively, you could go out and purchase brand new smart bulbs. This might be expensive, but it could be more seamless than switching to a local smart home hub.
Alternative Products to LIFX
I personally love Philips Hue, and I tend to recommend them – especially because the Hue Bridge allows you to manage your smart bulbs even if the company ‘Philips Hue’ were to close down. This is because Hue uses ZigBee, not Wi-Fi, to control their bulbs – meaning that you’re not 100% dependent on a third party cloud server.
Whilst there are cheaper smart bulbs out there, Hue’s products offer pretty good color quality. You won’t feel like you’re massively downgrading by moving from LIFX to Philips Hue.
But of course, after paying $40 per LIFX bulb, it’ll probably be annoying to then have to pay extra $45 per Philips Hue bulb. There are various ‘budget’ smart bulbs available for $10-15 per bulb (such as Gosund and TP-Link Kasa), which will offer decent enough color ranges for a much cheaper price.
So if you’re planning to leave LIFX behind, there are many alternatives – from $10 to $50 per bulb.