David Eun Explains Samsung’s Silicon Valley Invasion
David Eun once led Google and YouTube’s partnerships with media companies, turning their sometimes adversarial relationships into licensing deals. These days, he’s doing something similar, but from the hardware side of the business. As EVP of Samsung’s Open Innovation Center, Eun is charged with developing new digital content and services for a consumer electronics juggernaut that’s gunning for supremacy in everything from TVs and smartphones to refrigerators.
Onstage at D: Dive Into Media, Eun talked for the first time about Samsung’s plan to tap Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to drive its content and media business, and to turn its device portfolio into a massive content-distribution platform.
A cornerstone of that plan: Samsung’s new Open Innovation Center, which the company announced today at D: Dive Into Media. That operation is geared toward drawing on Silicon Valley innovation to fuel the technologies that Samsung sees as the next big thing.
“We’re doubling down on software innovation, particularly software that will enhance our products,” Eun said. “We’re focusing on investing in early-stage companies, and developing partnerships with them that can help us enhance the user experience of our customers.”
What does that investment entail? Samsung becoming a sort of back end for development. “We want people to be able to focus completely on product development,” Eun said. “We take care of salaries and benefits, so people don’t have to worry about anything else. They can just focus on building their products.”
The end game here, of course, is to add value to Samsung’s platform, something the company can then peddle to its partners, in some form or another. Does that mean Samsung fancies itself as an advertising network? Eun certainly thinks so.
“We think about being a platform, and allowing partners — whether they be advertisers or content providers — to find their way to us,” he said. “Is there a world where we can gather data from all our devices, process it and create something of value for our partners? Ultimately, partners want distribution, but they also want monetization. I think we can provide both. … But we need to think very seriously about what it is to have an integrated experience on our devices with third-party services and advertising.”
So, what is Samsung looking for in a content and advertising partner?
“We’re looking for folks that see us as more than just distribution. We have a very strong sense of how products are going to evolve, and where new markets will occur. … The ideal partner for us is someone who’s interested in our global footprint. But also someone we can work with to create truly compelling things. … At heart, we’re an entrepreneurial company. And we’ve done that by making huge bets and really focusing on execution.”