Who is Drift?

Drift has gotten a lot of press recently. Who are they and what are they building? This is my take - leave me a comment to let me know what I missed or what you think.


Drift (formerly Wovn Energy) is a startup out of Seattle founded in 2015. Drift officially launched in New York City as an energy services company in May 2017. About 20% of residential customers in NY get their energy from an independent company, and with all of the REV-related work going on, it seems like it could be a good place to be for them.

The founders are:
Co-founder, CEO - Greg Robinson, UW Seattle ‘09 (physics). One other previous job at Quester Energy Systems (a startup he helped co-found in 2009 for solar tracking systems with “wovyn” technology)
Co-founder, CTO - Ed McKenzie - Cornell U ‘02 (operations research). Former Google Maps SW engineer/test, Microsoft SW engineer/test, Questar Energy Systems.
Currently, it looks like they have around 10 or so employees.

Offering / Business Model

Drift says they want to link consumers to suppliers more directly, eliminating middlemen. Similar to others in this space, Drift is taking a “no contract” approach with short billing cycles (minimizes risk of non-payment and fees/interest charges) and they promise to pass wholesale energy prices onto consumers (unclear what happens if prices spike - are consumers protected?).

Consumers pay a weekly $1 subscription fee to cover Drift's costs and they have the ability to set preferences through the web app to say whether they want 100% zero emissions or max savings. Drift uses computer algorithms and automation to eliminate "middlemen and administrative fees", saving customers 10-20%.

It seems that what they are really doing is entering into relationships with power suppliers (particularly wind and hydro plants) and distributed resources (including solar and traditional, manual demand response), and combining that with improved load forecasting to better match up supply and demand.

Local "peer to peer" type producers can theoretically sign up to provide energy supply, but currently Drift is primarily working with wholesale generators, not behind-the-meter systems.

Traditional utilities can and do use similar techniques (forecasting, DR, etc.) but their mandate is to preserve the overall stability of the grid, not find the lowest price for customers.

According to QZ:
In a small beta program earlier this year, Drift bought electricity from producers such as upstate New York dams, as well as large buildings in New York City that can spare extra power, and delivered it to commercial and residential customers at prices sometimes lower than the spot wholesale market.
Customers saved 10% on average.


They have no white paper. Their backend seems to be based on distributed ledger technology, not a public blockchain, like some others in the space. They may use this as part of their trading strategy (?? - not clear).

Drift uses software-assisted risk management to aid in determining supply requirements - presumably so that they can buy supply ahead at cheaper prices. They claim to use machine learning and high-frequency trading to better forecast demand and eliminate exposure to price spikes.


No ICO. Their funding, $2.1M to date according to GTM, is from a wide variety of investors, including First Round Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, SV Angel, Joe Montana's Liquid 2 Ventures, Third Kind Venture Capital, Acequia Capital, Kal Vepuri, and Joshua Schachter.  They started at the University of Washington’s “Startup Hall” and first found funding through meeting with investors within that program / process.