January 3, 2013
Microsoft Bests Apple And Google In Bidding War Over R2 Studios
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It looks like Microsoft won the bidding war, as the Redmond-based software company reportedly bought the startup for an undisclosed sum, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The newly acquired R2 Studios developed an app that can control home settings such as A/V, lighting, thermostats, security systems and other household electronics from a smartphone. Sources say it is likely that Microsoft acquired the company to fit into its Xbox division; however the app and the technology developed by R2 Studios will also be attractive for Microsoft's Windows 8 division, which runs on Windows Phone, Surface tablets and PCs and laptops with touch-sensitive screens.
As part of the acquisition, Microsoft also purchased a number of patents held by R2 Studios, which may have been acquired separately. The patents pertain to controlling electronic devices and device interfaces, ZD Net reported.
R2 Studios is a Silicon Valley-based startup founded by entrepreneur Blake Krikorian in May 2011. Krikorian previously founded Sling Media, which produced the Slingbox and was sold to EchoStar Communications in 2007.
Until late December Krikorian was a member of Amazon.com's board. Upstart Business Journal reported on Monday that Krikorian resigned from Amazon's board due to a "hush-hush sale of an unnamed company he owns."
It is said that Krikorian will join Microsoft as part of a small team, likely id8 Group R2 Studios employees that make the move, once the deal is complete later this year.
The startup recently launched R2 Control for Crestron in Google Play, and the Android app store. The app runs Crestron software that lets users automate their home using an Android device.
While R2 Studios was founded in 2011, there are a number of patents citing the company, which go back to issue dates as early as 2001. It is likely that some of the early patents were modified with the patent office to fall under the id8 umbrella.
Patents include a remote control of program scheduling, remote ordering device; method for displaying information and information display system; double wireless access point bridging system; methods and systems for automating the control of objects“¦; method and apparatus for digital communications“¦; synchronizing property changes to enable multiple control options; food preparation system; home-appliance network with nodes identified by direct-sequence.
There are additional patents listing the company. It is not known whether Microsoft acquired all patents, or a selective number of patents held by id8 Group R2 Studios, as part of the deal.
Skype was acquired by Microsoft in a high-profile acquisition. The company acquired Skype in March of 2011 for $8.5 billion. Skype produced a Skype app, which was released in time for Microsoft's launch of Windows 8 in October.
Recent acquisitions by Microsoft include marketing automation firm MarketingPilot in October 2012; StorSimple in October 2012, a cloud storage appliance vendor; PhoneFactor, a two-factor authentication system acquired in October 2012; and Perceptive Pixel, a multi touch hardware company acquired in July 2012.