Business Casual: GE Flips the Switch to Off on Lighting Business


For nearly 130 years, General Electric has been bringing good things to light, and throughout the 20th century, the company carried on its founder’s tradition of experimentation and innovation by perfecting the fluorescent bulb, halogen bulb and LED, among other lighting innovations.

Founded in 1892 by Thomas Edison, the inventor of the incandescent bulb and other extraordinary inventions, GE has grown from its humble beginning as a lightbulb company into a modern, massive conglomerate, with business sectors that include lending, contracting for defense, and the manufacturing of appliances, jet engines, wind turbines, x-ray machines, ventilators and more. However, the company recently announced that it’s selling its lighting business to Savant Systems, a recognized leader in the field of home control and automation, so that GE can focus on more profitable areas such as renewable energy and health care technology. While financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by GE, it did include a licensing agreement that will allow Savant to use the GE brand.

In what some feel is not just a closing chapter to a business division, but a final chapter to a piece of American cultural identity, MarketScale’s Business Casual hosts Taylor Bagley, Daniel Litwin and Tyler Kern discuss this historic divesting of a business that has been at the vanguard of every major lighting revolution since Edison’s incandescent bulb.

“From the standpoint of people who associate the light bulb as the symbol of modern invention and innovation, there’s a kind of sadness to the fact that G.E., which for many years was at the forefront of that industry, has moved away from it,” stated Paul Israel, director and general editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University.

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