Samsung seals SmartThings deal

Samsung could be gearing up to take on Google’s Nest Labs acquisition, sealing a deal this week for open smart home automation startup, SmartThings.

A month after rumours emerged that Samsung was in talks to buy SmartThings, the US-based startup has confirmed the acquisition — but not the price.

SmartThings, which makes smartphone-operated home device controllers, announced today that it had been acquired by Korean electronics giant Samsung for an undisclosed amount — although sources have put the figure at about US$200 million, according to a report by Re/Code.

Samsung Electronic Australia did not provide ZDNet with comment related to the acquisition.

However, SmartThings founder and CEO Alex Hawkinson said in a blog post on the company's website that it would continue to run as an independent entity, but would make the move to Palo Alto in California to operate within Samsung's Open Innovation Centre Group.

"We will continue to run SmartThings the way we always have: by embracing our community of customers, developers, and device makers and championing the creation of the leading open platform for the smart home," he said. "Our growing team will remain fully intact and will relocate to a new headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. In short: SmartThings will remain SmartThings."

Hawksinson said that it had always been the company's goal to create an open smart home platform bringing together third-party developers, device makers, and consumers, and suggested that the acquisition would help the company expand its presence among all of the big smartphone vendors, not just Samsung.

"We believe that there is an enormous opportunity to leverage Samsung's global scale to help us realize our long-term vision," he said. "While we will remain operationally independent, joining forces with Samsung will enable us to support all of the leading smartphone vendors, devices, and applications; expand our base of developers and enhance the tools and programs that they rely on; and help many more people around the world easily control and monitor their homes using SmartThings."

The company got its start on crowd-funding platform Kickstarter and had raised about US$15.5 million to date prior to the acquisition. Its latest round was a US$12.5 million Series A in November last year.

Samsung's acquisition of SmartThings follows close behind Google's US$3.2 billion acquisition of smart home sensor maker Nest Labs at the beginning of the year — a move that saw the software giant substantially expand its internet of things (IoT) device footprint.

Since then, Nest went on to purchase cloud-based home monitoring service Dropcam for US$555 million in June further broadening that footprint.

Meanwhile, Apple is also pushing its IoT credentials, unveiling HomeKit , a new network protocol designed for the smart home sector, at its WWDC developer conference in June. The new protocol is aimed at allowing the likes of Siri to control devices in the home.