Home-automation trailblazer SmartThings, one of the Twin Cities' best-known tech startups, today announced it is being acquired by South Korean technology giant Samsung, but will operate semi-independently.
Terms of the Samsung deal haven't been disclosed, but are rumored to be in the neighborhood of $200 million.
SmartThings, which has split its operations among Minneapolis, San Francisco and its Washington, D.C., headquarters, is among the best-known home-automation companies to seize on the much-ballyhooed "Internet of Things" movement.
This is a high-tech trend to imbue ordinary household devices and objects with online capabilities via a range of Internet-aware sensors and other devices.
SmartThings, which sprang from a hugely successful 2012 crowdsourcing campaign, faced a challenging future as a small, independent company. With tech giants like Apple and Google entering the home-automation space, SmartThings was in danger of getting drowned out.
A Samsung buyout, rumored for weeks, looks to solve that problem. SmartThings said it will now operate within Samsung's Open Innovation Center group as an autonomous entity based in Silicon Valley.
"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," co-founder and chief executive Alex Hawkinson said in a blog post today.
"Our growing team will remain fully intact and will relocate to a new headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.," Hawkinson said. "In short: SmartThings will remain SmartThings."
SmartThings is maintaining its Minneapolis presence, at least for now, with a half-dozen job listings on its website.
SmartThings, in addition to providing its own sensors for detecting movement, temperature and more, has worked hard to make its technology compatible with third-party makers of web cameras, motion sensors, Internet-aware door locks and lightbulbs, and other products.
SmartThings stitches such products together via its phone software and a hub-like device that connects to a home-broadband router. Users then use their SmartThings networks to automate their home lighting and climate control, detect water leaks and home intruders, and more.
(c)2014 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
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Original headline: Samsung acquires local 'Internet of Things' startup SmartThings
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OCTOBER 20, 2014
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