General Electric has sold its lighting business, which originated with Thomas Edison more than 140 years ago. For some, it's "as if Kellogg had jettisoned its cornflakes business or Ford had stopped making cars," reports the New York Times, noting GE floodlights allowed for the first MLB night game in 1935, some three decades before the first LED was developed in a GE lab. But with energy-efficient LEDs now outselling traditional incandescent lightbulbs, the sale to Savant Systems Inc., a Massachusetts-based home automation company, was a logical step for the struggling conglomerate, which recently unloaded its biopharma and appliances divisions, per CNET. GE—to receive $250 million, per the Wall Street Journal—had been looking to sell its lighting business for years in order to focus on more profitable areas.
"I suspect it could have been done a long time ago because, as GE looked at its portfolio, its consumer businesses like toasters and things like that weren't good, profitable businesses," Joseph L. Bower of Harvard Business School tells the Times. Lightbulbs are "not really significant for a very big, big company." Some 700 GE employees will now move to Savant, which has been granted use of the GE brand. "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," CEO H. Lawrence Culp Jr. says. Edison created the Edison General Electric Company, which was merged with the Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form the General Electric Company in 1892. The inventor then sold his shares. (Read more General Electric stories.)