Flux Seed — Congrats to the first Google X spinout! Building better buildings, now Helix.Re
Excited to see my most recent investment announced today! Flux (now Helix.Re) is the first Google X spinout, taking a data and software-driven approach to building design and optimization.
I first brainstormed with Astro Teller and Sebastian Thrun about this idea when they were forming Google X and looking for the largest markets in the world that look ripe for disruption from advancing information technology and machine learning. The $10 trillion spent each year on buildings certainly qualified, and it is staggering; the global construction industry is growing from 13% of the entire global economy to 15% in 2020.
Honored to join Astro on the Board. I also wrote an essay on Evolving Cities and Culture for ARUP: "We are just starting to see the shimmering refractions of the hive mind of human culture, and now we want to redesign the hives themselves to optimise the emergent complexity within."
More from Flux:
The founding team sought a radical solution to reduce the environmental footprint of buildings, while simultaneously addressing rising demand for buildings driven by rapid urbanization. “The power required to heat, cool, light, and power devices in the places we live and work is responsible for 40% of our carbon emissions. Much of this power is wasted due to inadequate design, antiquated technology, and poor construction quality,” noted Michelle Kaufmann, co-founder and architect. Over the next thirty years, the building industry needs to supply housing and workplaces for over three billion people, nearly doubling the current urban building stock.
“We simply cannot continue building the way we have. We need to leverage new technologies, massive data sets, and new processes to increase productivity, scale the scope of design, and improve the places where we live and work. At DFJ, we look for great visionaries with unique ideas that can change the world. The Flux team is a perfect example, with a powerful mission unlike any that I have ever seen,” said Steve Jurvetson, DFJ Partner who has joined Flux’s Board of Directors.
For the past year, together with a dedicated group of industry partners, the Flux team has been developing a methodology capable of managing the full complexity of designing site-adapted, high-performance, and healthy buildings. The process starts by constructing a relationship graph between the key building systems driven by owners’ business objectives. By powering the graph with data and algorithms, the system allows building owners to trade-off upfront construction cost with marketability, life-cycle operating cost, occupant experience, and environmental impact. “Our vision is to seamlessly join together and optimize an array of tools that allows architects and engineers to work at the speed of thought,” described Jen Carlile, co-founder and software engineer. Flux will continue developing and testing its software on a few select projects this year; public availability will be in early 2015.
Update: Flux is now Helix.Re