Samsung acquires second-screen startup MOVL

Samsung has acquired the Atlanta-based second-screen startup MOVL. The acquisition happened last month but hasn’t been reported until now. Terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, but it looks like a typical acqui-hire.

A MOVL spokesperson confirmed the acquisition when contacted by GigaOM, sending over the following statement:

“In April 2013, two years after inception, MOVL has officially joined forces with Samsung. We are now a part of Samsung Electronics, and we are excited to combine our multi-screen capabilities with Samsung’s scale and innovation in its device ecosystem.”

MOVL has developed a number of second-screen games for connected TVs. Some of the better-known titles include PokerFun, which lets users play poker on the TV while displaying the cards they are holding on their smart phones, and WeDraw, a social drawing game for Samsung smart TVs and Google TV devices.

However, MOVL didn’t just develop games. The company also built a second-screen development platform dubbed MOVL Connect that simplified the process of developing these kinds of multi-screen applications. MOVL’s games are based on and meant to demonstrate the capabilities of that platform, as CTO Alan Queen told me in 2011. 

One of the main capabilities of that platform has been to allow users to join a game, or interact with an app running on their TV even if their phone doesn’t reside on the same Wi-Fi network — something that’s especially important for social apps, but that also lowers the bar for less technically inclined users. The platform is also capable of displaying synchronized ads on both screens.

It’s likely that MOVL will phase out the operation of its platform in the coming months. The company has a staff of nine, all of which have joined Samsung, with plans to relocate all Atlanta-based employees to the Bay Area. MOVL had raised a modest $1 million from Bert Ellis, Kris Pinto and Mark Cuban.