Samsung buys firm with Minnesota roots

  • Article by: ADAM BELZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 14, 2014 - 11:13 PM

SmartThings makes a mobile platform that enables people to control and monitor their homes through an app.

A company that built its foundation through a Minnesota Kickstarter campaign has been sold to Samsung for a reported $200 million.

SmartThings, which makes a platform that allows people to control and monitor their homes through a mobile app, raised $1.2 million in the Kickstarter campaign in 2012 and demonstrated its product at the Minnestar conference that fall.

The firm is now headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in Minneapolis and San Francisco, and has become a hot property as tech giants like Google, Apple and Samsung compete for a foothold in home automation.

According to the blog Recode, Samsung will pay $200 million for the firm. SmartThings will continue to operate independently, but its headquarters will move to Palo Alto, Calif., to become part of the Samsung Open Innovation Center.

“With Samsung behind us, we will be able to attract more device makers and developers to unlock the limitless possibilities of the consumer Internet of things,” SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson said in a statement. “We are thrilled to become part of the Samsung family and continue our goal in making every home a smart home.”

The South Korean electronics giant and the little start-up began talking in May, a spokeswoman said, and the deal was announced Thursday. The small Minneapolis office will remain in place, the spokeswoman said.

SmartThings’ open platform supports more than 1,000 devices and 8,000 apps created by its community of device makers, inventors and developers.

The company has ties with several other Minnesota tech firms, including RedEye and Spark. SmartThings co-founders Scott Vlaminck, Ben Edwards and Jesse O’Neill-Oine were also founders of Refactr, a consultancy that joined forces with Hawkinson’s SMB Live after the firm was acquired by ReachLocal in 2010.

According to its latest job postings, SmartThings is hiring up to six positions in Minneapolis.

On the firm’s blog, Hawkinson thanked “all of our earliest Kickstarter backers who believed in our vision,” among others.

 

Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz

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