In context: General Electric (GE) is one of the most well-known corporations around, and for over a century, it's been responsible for helping to keep the average American home well-lit thanks to its lighting business. However, the GE of the past is not the same GE we have today – gone are the days of founder Thomas Edison's influence in corporate operations.
After cycling through multiple CEOs, each with their own priorities, the company now has its hands in several different industries, ranging from aviation to healthcare to venture capital and finance.
For better or worse, that means the consumer-focused, home lighting side of GE's operations is no longer a priority. Indeed, in a press release issued today, the company announced that it has signed a "definitive agreement" to sell its lighting business to Savant Systems. Savant is a smart home company that sells a fairly standard variety of products: it sells smart speakers, smart shades, smart thermostats, and more.
If you're wondering why GE has chosen to sell GE Lighting after roughly 130 years of operation, company Chairman and CEO Lawrence Culp offered the following explanation:
Today's transaction is another important step in the transformation of GE into a more focused industrial company. Our GE Lighting colleagues will join a fast-growing leader in home automation that shares their passion for bringing the future to light. 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.
In other words, GE simply isn't interested in being a part of the home lighting industry anymore, which isn't much of a surprise. Nonetheless, this move marks the end of an era, and we're sure some of GE's long-term, die-hard customers will be disappointed by this news.
GE understandably strayed away from offering any specific details about the sale in its official press release. However, a report from the Wall Street Journal claims that the deal was worth about $250 million, which is a pretty nice chunk of change (though it will do little to reduce GE's massive corporate debt).