Israeli and NYC-based streaming media and entertainment startup Boxee has been acquired by South Korean electronics giant Samsung, we’ve been told by reliable sources. The Tel Aviv-based startup launched its latest hardware device late last, the Boxee Cloud DVR, which was rebranded from the Boxee TV to emphasize its focus on streaming over-the-air broadcast HD channels, and recording the content grabbed from those transmissions. Samsung is a maker of lots of connected devices, including smart TVs, so it’s a logical purchase for them in terms of extending the reach of their media ecosystem.
The purchase has been reported by a number of Israeli outlets, including The Marker as well as The Calcalist, and both have conflicting reports of the price for the deal. The Marker reports it at $30 million, which is just over its current funding total according to the most recent count. We’ve heard from a very good source with connections close to the company that the deal is indeed done, and they also say the price is around $30 million. Our own attempts to contact Boxee directly, including emails to CEO Avner Ronen, were met with responses that the company “couldn’t comment at this time.”
Reports of a purchase at or under $30 million are not good given Boxee’s hardware focus and current funding total of $26.5 million, but the deal apparently brings the entire Boxee team of around 45 people to work under Samsung’s roof. Still, Boxee had secured paying customers, but building a sustainable business based on streaming hardware after starting out as a provider of media center software may have been more resource intensive.
Right now, Boxee’s hardware is made by D-Link, which helped it launch both the first generation Boxee Box and now also the Cloud DVR. Presumably Samsung would want to refocus the team on its own hardware, but we’ve yet to hear any more details about plans for either existing or future Boxee products under the deal.
Boxee’s Cloud DVR originally debuted as the Boxee TV back in October as a $99 Walmart exclusive, and charged $10 per month for the DVR function, which was initially limited to a few key markets at launch, with staged rollout continuing in 2013 and intended to blanket the most of the U.S. by end of year. The company has also since issues updates that bring new features including 3D content for the Vudu service and DLNA streaming, indicating a continued commitment to this generation of hardware. Its decision to drop software updates for the older Boxee Box, announced late last year, was met with disappointment from users however.
Should Boxee become an integrated part of Samsung TVs (which would certainly benefit from onboard, limitless cloud-based DVR storage), the fate of the standalone Boxee line would definitely be called into question in terms of ongoing support. Still, the potential in terms of what Boxee’s experience could provide Samsung in terms of not only built-in Smart TV capabilities, but also set-top devices that can stream media from its Android phones as well as provide cloud DVR functionality is exciting.
Update: Samsung has now also confirmed the acquisition to the New York Times, saying it has “acquired key talent and assets from Boxee” in a statement. Boxee has also now officially confirmed the acquisition to TechCrunch.