Why Samsung NEXT is bullish on SmartThings and IoT

At the WSJ D.Live conference last month, Samsung NEXT president David Eun talked about how our group operates and why we’re bullish on IoT.

First up, what is Samsung NEXT, and why is the group important to driving innovation for the larger Samsung organization? For Eun, the group’s mission is all about identifying innovative software and services startups, and finding ways to bring that innovation to Samsung.

“We are like a startup within this very large company… What we’re trying to do is identify transformative software and services companies to complement this huge hardware footprint,” Eun said. “We do that through a combination of investment through our venture capital fund, through partnership, through M&A, and through our own product development.”

Samsung NEXT has made 66 investments in startups since being founded and has had 12 exits in that time. But Eun said that beyond just financial return, that initiative has helped the company identify talent, technology segments, and trends early. He gave the example of virtual reality, where we were investing for two to three years before Samsung came out with a headset.

In addition to investment and partnerships, Samsung NEXT also has an active M&A group. On that front, Eun pointed to SmartThings as one example of how M&A could be used to add innovative software to our huge hardware footprint. Speaking of IoT generally, he said, “We think that there are very few areas where the integration of hardware and software can make such a big difference in people’s lives.”

In order to get the integration right, Samsung brought SmartThings in but made sure it maintained their identity as an independently run subsidiary, with its own brand and developer community and partnerships, Eun said. Since acquisition, SmartThings has become the de facto platform for connecting all Samsung devices. But also, because it had an active community of tens of thousands of developers, we’ve been able to identify interesting use cases in the IoT ecosystem.

IoT is just one area we’re focused on, but it’s a good example of how the organization is looking to invest in and put the global scale of Samsung’s hardware footprint behind innovative software and services businesses. To learn more, check out the video above.

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