Samsung acquires Boxee

Samsung acquires Boxee

Summary: The Korean giant reportedly spent $30 million on the Israeli-American streaming media startup.

TOPICS: Samsung, Start-Ups

It began as a rumor first reported by Israeli publication The Marker, but independent reports are beginning to trickle in that suggest it's true: Korean electronics giant Samsung has acquired Boxee, the streaming media startup, for approximately $30 million.

(Update: And now it's official.)

At first, the company did not deny the validity of the reports, and simply refused to comment.

Boxee manufactures small home theater computers that were early successes in bringing Internet-connected multimedia to living room televisions. The company's $99 flagship product, "Boxee Cloud DVR," offers recording and streaming of media content from any mobile device.

The startup is backed by General Catalyst Partners, Union Square Ventures, Softbank, Pitango, Spark Capital and Globis Capital Partners to the tune of more than $26 million.

Though it was met with early success, the consumer-focused company has faltered in recent months. It reportedly sought to raise additional funding, and subsequently a suitor, once that didn't work out.

Its challenge? The companies Boxee primarily competes against are all larger in size and scope: Apple (TV), Google (TV), TiVo, Dish Network and virtually every television manufacturer can out-muscle Boxee when it comes to market presence. (Only Roku, which is also independent, is comparable, though Dish Network has invested in it.) As more companies get into the "smart TV" game and integrate more functionality into a single device, stopgap products like Boxee's stand to be squeezed out.

But the real question here is why Samsung believes it needs Boxee, either for talent or technology. That very large company has made great efforts in its Smart TV brand, but industry efforts in this space have been met with some disdain by consumers. (My CNET colleague David Katzmeier called the features "whizbang doodads, newfangled thingamabobs, miscellaneous frippery." Enough said.)

Perhaps Samsung sees value in Boxee chief executive Avner Ronen's focus and vision, traits often in short supply in the halls of multinational conglomerates. Or perhaps the company simply wants to preserve its lead in the global market.

Topics: Samsung, Start-Ups

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • You get what you pay for.

    Honestly, I'm surprised that Boxee went for as little as it did - I think that was roughly the amount of money already sunk into the company...

    ...which means, inevitably, that it wasn't doing very well. $30M is pretty cheap to get some good engineers and tech.

    Maybe Samsung got a steal. Or a sock-full of soap suds in a panicked buy, ala Motorola's purchase by Google.
    • Hmm

      They must have had manufacturing problems because they seem to have been a fairly attractive product that was very hard to get.
      • Problems

        Well, the Boxee boxes were apparently made by D-Link - do they have manufacturing problems?

        The backstory I'm gathering is that they burned through their first $30M and tried and failed to get a second similar-sized round of venture funding. Failing that, they put themselves up for acquisition, and got no takers, until Samsung finally picked them up for a song.