July 16, 2014
TechCrunch reports that Samsung has been in talks to acquire SmartThings, the home automation startup based in Washington, DC. According to sources, the deal is looking to be worth around $200 million. TechCrunch originally reported that the deal was complete, but updated the post saying that the deal may not be done.
SmartThings is a smart home platform that allows users to control several home functions simply from their mobile phones, including lighting, locks, electronics, appliances, and others connected through the company's devices. The company's focus on the interconnection between devices makes it one of the leaders in the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, which aims to link everything in the physical world to the web.
Samsung's acquisition of the DC tech startup follows similar moves by Apple and Google. In January of this year, Google forked over $3.2 billion to acquire Nest, a company that offered smart thermostats and smoke alarms. And, most recently, Apple announced its HomeKit platform last month, which aims to connect multiple devices to your mobile device.
If the deal goes through, Samsung will position itself at the pinnacle of the IoT industry. SmartThings has become renowned for its advocacy of open platforms, and the acquisition could get Samsung to further build on this openness. This does, of course, require that Samsung not lock itself to the requirement that interconnectivity only take place between Samsung products, but that's the next step.
Considering past acquisitions, though, $200 million seems a little low for SmartThings. Earlier this year, cofounder and CEO Alex Hawkinson said that the company sees itself as a force in the overall tech landscape, noting its role in the changes in consumer technology (mainly this move towards the IoT) and comparing its product offerings to those of Nest. Granted the $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest is a bit over the top, but if SmartThings truly sees itself as a competitor, then $200 million seems like an undervaluation of its worth.
No matter what, the acquisition – if confirmed to be true – could significantly boost the reputation of the DC tech scene, which somehow continues to lay under the radar as a top tech ecosystem.
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