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Samsung buys SmartThings to gain a foothold in home automation

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$200 million to help your refrigerator talk to your stove

Samsung, which already makes a variety of home appliances, just acquired a company that can help them work better together. The Korean company paid a reported $200 million to acquire the 2-year-old startup, which employs 55 people in Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Minnesota. Smart Things was founded to cut through the confusing network of standards that currently exist among home-automation products, and sells a $99 hub that lets appliances communicate across standards.

Samsung's current appliances have some ability to communicate with each other, but the company said SmartThings would enable them to expand the reach and capabilities of home automation. "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," said Alex Hawkinson, SmartThings' CEO. The move also has some strategic implications; home-automation companies have proven popular lately, with Google spending $3.2 billion on Nest earlier this year.

SmartThings will move to Palo Alto to become part of Samsung's incubator, the Samsung Open Innovation Center. The company, which began life as a Kickstarter project, had raised $15 million in venture capital.