As a global conglomerate, Samsung is into a lot of things: appliances, phones, chips, tanker ships.
But what about food tech? Well now that too, at least after the acquisition of Whisk, a food AI platform startup based in the UK. The deal, announced today, brings the startup into the fold via Samsung Next, Samsung’s software and services innovation hub. As per usual with many Samsung deals, financial terms were not disclosed.
And while nearly everyone in the world has heard of Samsung, it’s a different story for Whisk, despite strong growth for the company over the past couple years. That’s ok though, since the company’s main product is a behind-the-scenes B2B platform that powers commerce from within the recipes of publishers like the BBC and Allrecipes. On the hardware side, the startup’s software helps companies like Samsung offer consumers the ability to shop for food on the appliance through grocery partners like Walmart and Amazon Fresh.
The deal is interesting in that it gives Samsung a digital recipe and food platform that could potentially drive new commerce scenarios. In addition to being inserted into all of Samsung’s appliances, it’s easy to envision Whisk’s technology being added as a new feature into a massive Samsung smartphone installed base.
Part of why it’s easy to see this deal reaching far beyond appliances is the positioning of the acquisition under Samsung Next.
From Whisk CEO Nick Holzherr’s blog post about the deal:
“Samsung is a global leader in technology that is transforming TVs, smartphones, PCs, home appliances and a host of other technology categories. Samsung NEXT’s mission is to help transform Samsung through software and services innovation. Together, we will be focusing on delivering seamless digital food experiences by leveraging Samsung’s scale.”
Putting it under Next also tells me that unlike past consumer-tech deals like the SmartThings acquisition – which was largely an IoT platform move – this is very much a software centric move. Next’s stated mission is to invest in and build software and services, and in Whisk they’re getting a food software and AI platform that has strong momentum.
What will be interesting to watch is how Whisk’s other partners react to the company being owned by Samsung. When Whisk acquired Avocando back in May of last year, it gave them both Miele and BSH Appliances as customers. While being positioned under Next does give Whisk a certain degree of independence from Samsung Appliances, the reality is Samsung’s appliance competitors may not see it as such.
Stepping back, this move is part of a larger trend in which we’re seeing big technology platform companies investing more heavily in foodtech. Whether it’s Amazon’s massive push into the grocery biz or IBM’s recent launch of a co-developed AI platform with spice giant McCormick, it’s becoming clear that big tech has set it’s sites on the food business as one of its next frontiers.
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