Way back in the dark days of 2012, if you wanted to connect your various devices, apps, and services, you had two choices: You waited for the company that made one of the services to offer a hard-coded integration to the other in the way you hoped it would work, (which, if it happened at all, it happened only for the most broad use cases), or you hired a programmer to try to create it for you—custom, assuming the APIs for the services were available and accessible in the way you hoped. That’s all changed – now there’s IFTTT.
If you’ve not yet heard of IFTTT (short for “If This, Then That”), the investment we’re announcing today, it is a strong bet that you will. It’s a remarkable enabling technology that lets you transform your digital life from that of a confused bystander with too many “siloed” apps and services, to a master of your personal Internet of Things. With an impressively simple cause-and-effect-based workflow, you can link and automate your social networks, gadgets, and web services through “recipes” you build yourself. You can also browse the hundreds of thousands of clever, useful, and amusing recipes built by others, and install them to go to work for you with a couple of clicks (or taps).
Let me simplify it further… you can now connect your stuff, and it’s brilliant.
As an investor, I look for breakthrough ideas and game-changing technologies that drive the way we work and interact. I look for technologies that make our online AND offline lives easier, more efficient, and more entertaining. I look for things that make you say “I want that” the very first time you see it or hear about it. I look for truly disruptive companies built by passionate founding teams on a mission. IFTTT checked all of those boxes and more.
In addition, it’s not hard to see that the next generation of devices we wear, watch, drive, use, and live with are going to have to co-exist and communicate with each other. With each new device, the number of connection possibilities to all the others grows exponentially, so waiting for each new device-maker to create, enable, and maintain those connections is futile. We want the connectivity and data-sharing now, and we need it to be simple and manufacturer-agnostic.
Further, we demand a personalized experience that allows us to choose where, when, and how our devices connect and collaborate. We want to customize our world to work the way we want to. We want alerts on our phone, content pushed to various devices, and actions that are triggered by our presence, our activity, or even external signals or events in our world.
Is that too much to ask? Not anymore. IFTTT makes this magic not only doable, but simple enough for anyone to do it in just a few minutes. IFTTT holds the promise of radical gains in productivity, efficiency, and awareness. You will be empowered in new ways, one recipe at a time.
Ask the company’s loyal users what they have automated and you’ll get a completely different answer from each, which is frankly part of the magic of IFTTT. Compile these “recipes” and you’ll witness a new and extremely useful crowd-sourcing movement. It is a continuation of a new kind of technology empowerment that in the past was only available to the select few that could jailbreak and hack their way to technology enlightenment while the rest of us were pawing at our devices with daft hands.
In an increasingly complex and distributed world of devices, web services, and apps, there is a huge and growing need for centralization, customization, integration, and simplicity. It’s time to fill that void, and IFTTT is busy doing it.
My personal favorite recipes are helping me navigate my life and assist me where I want to be assisted.
For example, I can:
- notify my wife via SMS when I’m driving home and I’m 15 minutes from arriving.
- automatically set my phone to vibrate when I begin any meeting that I’ve marked as “#silent” on my Google calendar, and turn the ringer back on when I leave that meeting.
- automatically update a Google Docs spreadsheet with the name and address of each of my appointments along with the mileage I drove to get there.
- get news, sports scores, trending articles, and important work updates all where I want them (my phone, car, wearable device, TV, etc.)
- automatically add any receipt to an Evernote notebook for business expenses by just tagging an Instagram photo of it with “#biz-receipt”.
- add a contact to my iPhone contacts list and have the service automatically invite that new contact to connect to me on LinkedIn.
- have a notification appear on my phone each day when my newly-licensed teen-age son arrives safely at his school parking lot., and another when he’s arrived back home.
While my list above is obviously unique to me, my investment in IFTTT is a bet that just about every reader who sees that list will quickly start thinking about similar things they want to do with the service.
As I mentioned earlier, at Norwest Venture Partners, we deal in disruptive opportunities. So it follows that we would invest in IFTTT – the next-generation Operating System for connecting all that we use, do, touch, visit, and interact with. It continues one of the major investment theses that I, and my NVP colleagues, have been pursuing for the last few years: crowd-sourced and collaborative platforms that unlock creativity in individuals will deliver extraordinary value for individuals and change the way we lead our lives. Quirky lets anyone invent things, LendingClub lets anyone fund things, Motif lets anyone invest in abstract things, and now IFTTT lets anyone connect things.
IFTTT. Check it out. I encourage readers to browse existing recipes to see the magic of IFTTT and put that magic to work for you. I look forward to seeing the amazing things in your life that you automate with IFTTT.