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Calif. thermostat maker buys Boston start-up

MyEnergy deal is first for Nest Labs

On the heels of raising $80 million in venture capital funding earlier this year, the fast-growing California high-tech thermostat maker Nest Labs Inc. has bought Boston start-up MyEnergy .

The acquisition Tuesday is the first one for Nest, which was founded by two former Apple Inc. executives in 2010 and has quickly grown into one of the hottest Silicon Valley technology start-ups. Nest would not reveal terms of the deal.

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Nest founders Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers were both senior managers at Apple who worked on the development of the iPod. They started Nest in Palo Alto, Calif., to create a smarter thermostat that can be controlled remotely by mobile devices and that automatically adjusts based on users’ schedules and preferences.

The thermostat is priced at $250, but the company promises it can save users up to 20 percent on heating and air conditioning bills because of Nest’s technology.

MyEnergy provides a Web-based service for consumers to track water, electricity, and gas usage over time, and compare their usage with that of neighbors or family members, so that users can find ways to lower energy bills. Founded in 2007, MyEnergy has 12 employees and has raised $4 million in venture funding from firms including Point Judith Capital of Boston.

“Nest came looking for us because of the MyEnergy technology,” said Ben Bixby, chief executive of MyEnergy. “We are able to take this technology of Nest — this iPhone that sits on your wall — and help you know exactly when it’s paid for itself.”

The idea for the device grew out of Fadell’s frustration with not being able to find a thermostat to his liking while building a green home in California. The Nest thermostat has the same simple design elements associated with Apple products. Since its introduction in fall 2011, Nest has become very popular, the top-selling programmable thermostat for the home on Amazon.com.

Nest and MyEnergy have been in discussions for months about potentially working together since the two companies are similarly focused on consumer energy consumption, said Rogers, Nest’s vice president of engineering.

“Instead of just having integrated features, why not have integrated companies,” he said.

Nest plans to use MyEnergy’s technology to provide customers with more information about their own home energy consumption. The deal is also expected to further Nest’s partnerships with energy providers, so that utilities can share data about usage with their customers.

Beyond that, the two companies were guarded about what else the acquisition would mean for the two companies and the integration of their technologies.

The acquisition follows a long line of West Coast technology companies buying Massachusetts start-ups. Most recently, social media company Twitter Inc. bought two Cambridge firms, Crashlytics and Bluefin Labs. Unlike Twitter, however, Nest said it has no plans to use the acquisition to establish a local office.

For now, MyEnergy will remain a separate brand and platform. It’s still being determined which MyEnergy employees will stay in Boston and which ones will relocate to California, where Nest has 210 employees.

Michael B. Farrell can be reached at michael.farrell@globe.com.
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