Vivint

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Vivint, Inc.
Type Private
Industry Security Systems, Fire detection, Home Automation,
Founded 1997
Headquarters Provo, Utah
Website www.vivint.com

Vivint, Inc. (formerly known as APX Alarm Security Solutions Inc.) is a privately held company providing home security, home automation and energy conservation services in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. Vivint Inc. is headquartered in Provo, Utah. Vivint serves more than 800,000 installed systems across the United States, Canada and New Zealand, and retains over 7,000 employees.[1]

Prosecutors in at least eleven different states have sanctioned Vivint for deceptive sales practices including high pressure door-to-door sales tactics and other violations.

Two TCPA class action lawsuits has been certified against Vivint (Christopher Johansen v. Vivint, Inc., and Benzion v. Vivint, Inc).[2]

History[edit]

Vivint Inc. entered the home burglar alarm service industry in 1997.[3] During its first year of operation the company installed 1,000 alarm systems using a door-to-door marketing strategy. Later,[when?] Vivint announced its new business partnership with investment banker Goldman Sachs. Vivint also received funding from private equity firm Jupiter Partners in May 2006, where Jupiter's stake is still invested into Vivint's business.[4] Also in 2006, Vivint expanded its services to Canada offering security services to residents of Toronto, ON. Vivint now offers services to most major cities in the U.S. and Canada.[5][6] On October 5, 2009, Vivint created a $440 million credit facility led by Goldman Sachs.[7] On November 1 of the same year, Vivint acquired a central alarm monitoring station from CMS, a wholly owned subsidiary of Protection One, along with 83 new employees.[8] This central station is located in St. Paul, Minnesota.[8] On Dec 3, 2009 Vivint opened a new corporate headquarters, in Provo, Utah.[9] This building also houses an internal monitoring center which began operation in April 2010.[10] In September 2012, Vivint announced that they had entered into an agreement to be acquired by Blackstone Group for in excess of $2 Billion.[11] This acquisition by Blackstone Group was finalized in November, 2012.[12][13] Vivint's rapid growth was recognized by Forbes magazine in its annual ranking of America's Most Promising Companies for 2013, marking the first time the company was named to the list, with a ranking of 46 out of the 100 privately held companies listed.[14]

Company overview[edit]

Vivint was incorporated in 1999 by Keith Nellesen and current CEO Todd Pedersen. Its current President is Alex Dunn, formerly Governor Mitt Romney's Chief of Staff.[15] Vivint provides monitored Fire, Burglar and other security options to residential customers.[16][17] The company's main business strategy has been to deploy geographically focused teams of sales representatives and installers, using ClickSoftware for organization,[18] during summer months, with additional year-round telephone sales.[19] In 1999 as APX, Vivint initially installed security systems as a dealer of Protection One, then switched to installing for ADT Security Services for several years, then switched to Monitronics until 2005.[20] Thereafter Vivint began installing its own security systems, directly servicing all aspects including sales, installation and monitoring. Presently, Vivint uses a variety of Honeywell security equipment, and began using 2GIG Technologies for panels and peripherals starting in late 2009.[21][22][23] Vivint is able to continue to handle emergencies during natural disasters such as hurricanes due to their cellular monitoring and battery back-up.[24] The panel used by Vivint offers severe weather, and tornado warnings and alerts. These weather alerts and warnings are a feature of, and provided by the Alarm.com back end service to Users for alerts issued by the National Weather Service. Vivint is a Dealer for Alarm.com (ADC) and a Dealer for 2GIG, and as such, they have no control or direct participation in the NWS alerts pushed to the panels.[25][26] Vivint utilizes Z-Wave technology and is a member of the Z-Wave Alliance.[27] Vivint monitors its own systems through its own central stations, and in 2012 received the CSAA's Annual Excellence Award as the Central Station of the Year.[28] In February, 2013 it opened its Vivint Innovation Center for developing new technologies.[29][30] In 2011 Vivint was ranked #3 in the SDM list of the largest 100 security installation and monitoring companies.[31] It is ranked #2 in 2013.

In November 2012, the Blackstone Group acquired a controlling interest in Vivint, Vivint Solar, and 2GIG Technologies for in excess of $2 billion.[32] Five months following the acquisition of 2GIG Technologies, on February 14, 2013, Blackstone (the current parent company of Vivint/APX Group Holdings), sold 2GIG to Nortek's Linear subsidiary for $135M.[33] Vivint is currently the second largest home security company in the United States.[34] The company has won several awards over the past few years. In July 2012, the Central Station Alarm Association awarded Vivint the Central Station of the Year award.[35] This award is designed to promote central station services and recognize outstanding monitoring personnel and the overall excellence of monitoring operation. A Vivint employee named Amy Becht also won the CSAA Manager of the Year award.[35] In December 2012, Vivint ranked number 53 on PCWorld’s list of the 100 Best Products of 2012. Of the top five tech home products on the 2012 list, Vivint ranked No. 1.[36] In March 2013, Vivint won the 2013 People’s Choice Stevie Award for Favorite Customer Service Provider in the “other industries” category. Vivint also received a Silver Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year in the “other industries” category, and Tim Izatt, director of customer services at Vivint, was honored with a Silver Stevie Award for Contact Center Leader of the Year.[37] In October 2013, Inc. Magazine named the company the No. 2 top job-creating private company in the U.S.[38]

In 2014, a cybersecurity researcher for the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory by the name of Logan Lamb,[39] discovered a vulnerability in Vivint's Go!Control and Sky Control panel (aka Go!Control 2.0, or more commonly, Go!2.0 panel)[40][41] that allows a hacker to completely disable the panels, and/or send false alarms from outside the home.[42] The attack exploits the unencrypted communications between the panel, sensors, keypads and keyfobs which are broadcast openly over rf and can be intercepted and spoofed by a $299 "HackRF One" SDR or a USRP. Lamb was scheduled to demonstrate the exploit at 2014 Black Hat and DEFCON seminars, but withdrew as a result of threats made against him.[43]

Vivint Solar[edit]

In 2011, Vivint Inc. launched a new subsidiary company named Vivint Solar[44] as a solar electricity provider that designs, installs, and maintains residential photovoltaic systems. Vivint Solar in 2013 is operating in 6 states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Hawaii, and California.[45][46] The company offers solar panels via a power purchase agreement (PPA).[47] Vivint Solar owns, installs, and maintains solar panels on customers’ homes in exchange for customers agreeing to purchase the solar energy their panels produce. Customers do not pay for installation, but pay for energy that the panel's produce, for the life of the contracts.[48] Vivint Solar is similar to other alternative solar companies like SolarCity, SunRun, and Sungevity. Its innovation in the field is the use of microinverters for each separate solar panel, allowing maximum production when some of the panels are in the shade.[49][50]

Its President and CEO is Greg Butterfield and its chief technology officer is Dan Rapp. Vivint Solar is currently rated C+ by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and is not accredited by the BBB.[51]

Vivint Innovation Center[edit]

The Vivint Innovation Center is the research and development arm of Vivint, Inc. It is located in Lehi, Utah in the business park adjacent to Thanksgiving Point.

The innovation center was announced by Vivint in February, 2013.[52][53] In early 2014, Vivint announced that it is currently constructing a new innovation center near to its existing facility, which will triple its area, with a scheduled opening in mid-2014.[54] It is staffed by approximately 50 hardware, software and radio engineers, industrial designers and user experience professionals. The Center is led by Matt Eyring, chief strategy and innovation officer; J.T. Hwang, chief technology officer; Jim Nye, vice president of product development;[55][56] and Jeremy Warren, vice president of innovation.[57] Warren joined Vivint from 2GIG Technologies,[58] where he served as chief technology officer.

Legal issues[edit]

Vivint's sales practices have resulted in over 3,000 complaints to the Better Business Bureau, and resulted in investigations by at least fifteen states.[59][60]

On March 15, 2013 the Kansas Attorney General entered into a Settlement Agreement with Vivint, Inc. According to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the company was accused of using a variety of deceptive practices while going door-to-door offering to install new home security systems or replace existing systems. The Attorney General's Office said the salesman failed to advise the consumers of their rights under the Kansas Consumer Protection Act and did not disclose all costs associated with switching alarm system providers.[61]

On April 26, 2013 the State of Ohio Attorney General's Office entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance Settlement Agreement with Vivint, Inc. According to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, consumers filed complaints that the company made representations to consumers that its home security equipment was free, but failed to disclose the existence or amount of installation, activation and monitoring fees associated with the system. Vivint door-to-door sales representatives misrepresented the price of continued monthly monitoring fees, made representations that it was providing an upgrade to the consumer's current home security system; that the consumer's current security system company was no longer in business; or that Vivint was otherwise part of or authorized to continue monitoring the consumer's current home security system. Vivint routinely installed the home security systems on the same day the contracts were executed and within the three-day cancellation period and failed to orally inform consumers of their right to cancel the contract within three days or misrepresented the consumers' right to cancel by informing them they were signing the contract on a "trial basis" or that they had thirty days to cancel.[61]

On June 3, 2013 the State of Nebraska Attorney General's Office entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with Vivint, Inc. According to the terms of the Agreement, Vivint, Inc. shall not make any misrepresentations and/or false or misleading statements, directly or by implication, which have the tendency or effect of deceiving or misleading consumers.[61]

The State of Wisconsin took legal action against the company in September 2012, for deceptive and misleading sales tactics. The judgment ordered Vivint Inc. to refund up to $148,000 and cancel almost $450,000 in consumer debt. The judgment requires Vivint to pay refunds to consumers who were misled about their ability to cancel their alarm service contracts, as well as consumers who were misled about false alarm charges. Vivint also will remove affected consumers from collections and the company will pay forfeitures and attorneys fees to the State as well as improve their disclosures to consumers about their services and charges, making it easier for consumers to cancel their contracts if they so desire.[62][63]

Arkansas fined Vivint/APX $40,850 for over 40 violations in 2009.[64] On September 10, 2010 the State of Arkansas Attorney General's Office charged Vivint, Inc. with violating the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Vivint paid $125,000 for the costs of the investigation and prosecution of the complaint.[65] In 2008 and 2009, Vivint paid a total of $65,850 in Arkansas using improperly licensed workers.[59]

The states of Washington, Louisiana, South Carolina, Minnesota and Tennessee have all fined Vivint/APX for violating state licensing codes.[64][64][66] In Washington, police cited Vivint/APX seven times in 2008 and 2009 for having unlicensed workers install alarms.[59] Louisiana also fined Vivint for violating a Cease and Desist Order, and engaging in false, misleading, or deceptive practices.[64]

State and local prosecutors in California and Oregon have also charged Vivint with engaging in deceptive trade practices, misleading customers, and engaging in improper collections tactics. To settle these charges, Vivint has entered into consent agreements. Vivint paid $425,000 in fines in California.[67][68] Oregon fined Vivint/APX $60,000 for "targeting elderly Oregonians with misleading and high-pressure sales tactics".[69]

There are currently as of 2014, two federal lawsuits against Vivint for telemarketing (TCPA) violations.[2][70] Both lawsuits (Johansen v. Vivint, Inc., and Benzion v. Vivint, Inc) have been certified as Class Actions. In Benzion, Vivint agreed to a $6,000,000 settlement fund.[71]

Charitable contributions by employees[edit]

In 2008, ninety Vivint employees went to Galveston, Texas to aid Hurricane Ike victims.[72] In 2011 Vivint Gives Back donated over $1.25 Million and 7,500 person-hours of service, and in early 2012 was named the Corporate Volunteer Program of the Year.[73] In 2012, Vivint Gives Back had nearly 3,000 Vivint employees volunteer 23,000 person-hours to help needy families, and Vivint Gives Back's $1.5 million charity fund was distributed to 20 different international relief organizations.[74]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]