Tuesday, January 22, 2013

(BN) Samsung Ventures Buys Fixmo Stake to Take on BlackBerry

(Bloomberg ) Samsung Venture Investment Corp. (005930) bought a stake in Canadian security software maker Fixmo Inc. to extend the Asian company's growth with business and government clients traditionally served by Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM)

Samsung Ventures, which invests on behalf of Suwon, South Korea-based smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co. and other parts of the Samsung group of companies, is making the investment in return for a "small" equity stake, Fixmo Chief Executive Officer Rick Segal said in a phone interview. He declined to disclose exactly how much Samsung invested. Nam Ki Yung, a spokesman for Samsung Electronics, declined to comment.

The investment shows that "Samsung is getting very serious about taking on RIM in their own backyard, in government and enterprise," Segal, who founded Fixmo, said yesterday. RIM is based in Waterloo, Ontario.

Samsung is looking to replicate the success it's had with consumers among businesspeople as more workers use their own devices instead of company-issued phones. Operating profit at Samsung, the biggest maker of devices on Google Inc. (GOOG)'s Android platform, jumped 89 percent last quarter to 8.8 trillion won ($8.3 billion), paced by sales of its Galaxy smartphones.

RIM is counting on its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, set to debut Jan. 30, to trigger a wave of upgrades from lawyers, bankers and public servants faithful to their BlackBerrys. The company was poised to finish 2012 with a 4.7 percent share of the global smartphone market, hurt by an aging smartphone lineup, market researcher IDC said last month. Android had about 68 percent market share.

RIM is also wooing companies with features such as BlackBerry Balance, which allows users to operate two versions of their device for work and personal life that separately quarantine e-mail, applications and other data.

Security Software

Fixmo sells security software including Sentinel and SafeZone it has developed with the U.S. National Security Agency to bolster device safety. The Toronto-based company secured $23 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2011 and has secured more than $40 million in investment to date, Segal said.

"Samsung is looking at companies like us to give them insight but more importantly to lay down those strategic markers in areas like security and storage," he said.

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