SAN FRANCISCO Aug 14 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd
will buy SmartThings, a startup backed by PayPal
co-founder Max Levchin that helps connect household devices, one
of its largest U.S.-startup acquisitions to date.
The South Korean electronics maker joins fellow technology
heavyweights Apple Inc and Google Inc in
exploring ways to integrate connected household gadgets such as
thermostats and lights with mobile apps, a trend commonly known
as "Internet of Things."
Samsung did not disclose financials. But the TechCrunch blog
reported in July that Samsung was in discussions to pay more
than $200 million for the two-year-old startup of 55 employees,
which has raised $15.5 million in venture capital from Greylock
and Russian investor Yuri Milner, among others.
SmartThings, which lets people use a mobile app to control
connected devices, says it has some 5,000 developers building
devices that connect to its open platform. It will continue to
operate independently but move its base from Washington, D.C. to
Palo Alto, California.
Some tech and telecommunications executives view the market
for "smart," or connected, home devices as poised to explode.
Manufacturers are rolling out Internet-connected burglar
alarms, televisions and light switches. But like the early days
of video cassette recorders, current smart home products are
often incompatible with each other.
The largest tech players are now drawing up alliances to
create common standards for the next generation of gadgets.
Apple, known for strictly controlling how other companies'
products interact with its own, in June announced HomeKit, which
it describes as a framework to communicate with devices in the
Google's Nest has also partnered with companies including
Whirlpool Corp and light bulb maker LIFX to integrate
their products with its thermostats and smoke detectors.
Samsung, which already makes Internet-connected appliances
such as refrigerators and washing machines, has allied with
Intel Corp and Dell Inc, among others. Qualcomm Inc
has forged a rival alliance with Microsoft Corp
SmartThings, which is owned by the Physical Graph Corp,
began life as a crowdfunded Kickstarter project in 2012.
(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)