July 21st, 2015
In another signal that consumers’ homes are the new battleground for tech colossuses, Samsung announced on Thursday that it was buying Internet of Things startup SmartThings for a reported $200 million.
Re/code reported the figure, which was attributed to anonymous sources. SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson confirmed the acquisition in a blog post, but didn’t describe any financial terms. SmartThings will now operate as an independent company within Samsung’s Open Innovation Center group, Hawkinson said.
The company’s team will move to Palo Alto, California, but will still be called SmartThings, he added. It is currently based in Washington, D.C.
SmartThings launched in 2012 as a Kickstarter project. A power outage at Hawkinson’s vacation home, which caused the basement pipes to explode, inspired him to start the company. As a result, he dreamed up a wireless hub that connects to sensors around a house, facilitating a so-called “smart home” that can be controlled by a smartphone.
Hawkinson’s timing was good. Although home automation has been around for decades, it’s still far from mainstream. At the same time that SmartThings launched, Nest Labs, a “smart thermostat” created by former Apple engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, was hitting the market.
In January, Google bought Nest for $3.2 billion, demonstrating that the tech giant was keen on colonizing smart homes, much like how it colonized smartphones with the much-cheaper Android acquisition in 2005. In its World Wide Developer's Conference in June, Apple showed off its HomeKit concept, which envisioned a Siri-controlled home — and the race was on.
Even before all that activity, Gartner predicted in late 2013 that by 2020, the Internet of Things market would grow 30-fold to $300 billion.
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