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Smart Home

Quirky's Ben Kaufman steps down as CEO

Six years after founding the crowd-sourced invention platform, Ben Kaufman will no longer serve as Quirky's chief executive.

Ben Kaufman, founder of Quirky. Sarah Tew/CNET

Ben Kaufman is stepping down as CEO of Quirky, the New York-based developer of crowd-sourced inventions that he founded in 2009.

The company announced the move via blog post Friday, citing an "ongoing strategy to focus efforts and resources on Wink," its smart home-centric subsidiary.

Kaufman's exit comes about three months after Quirky -- a rising star in the smart-home field -- botched a security update that locked many customers out of their Wink Hub, the central communications device in Wink's smart-home platform.

Until then, Quirky had been on the upswing in the burgeoning realm of creating the smart home -- a broad concept of connecting appliances and utilities to the Internet and adding more sensors to doors, windows and rooms around the house. Quirky's partnerships include one with General Electric that helped pushed Quirky into the limelight.

Before the Hub crisis, Quirky had been looking to sell off Wink, and last month Kaufman told Fortune that selling Wink was still a possibility. But apparently plans have changed.

In that same interview, Kaufman described some of his own missteps as CEO in frank terms, including the way the company handled Wink, its "start-up within a start-up."

"The brand couldn't necessarily stretch as much as we thought it could," Kaufman explained to Fortune's Alan Murray. "People didn't mind buying a Quirky power strip, but when we started making $350 air conditioners, people didn't want a Quirky air conditioner. They wanted a good one, that works."

Kaufman's replacement is Quirky Chief Financial Officer Ed Kremer, who will assume the title of CEO as the company works to get its financial house in order.