Amazon to Buy Maker of the Roomba for $1.7 Billion

Hey Alexa, tell Roomba to vacuum the bedroom.

Amazon announced Friday that it has reached an agreement to buy iRobot Corp., maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum, for $1.7 billion, adding to its growing list of smart home products.

“We know that saving time matters and that work takes up valuable time that could be better spent doing things that customers love,” said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, in a statement about the acquisition.

Amazon will acquire iRobot, including its debt, for $61 per share in an all-cash transaction, the statement said. The purchase would be Amazon’s fourth-largest after the company bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017 and movie studio MGM for $8.5 billion last year. Last month, Amazon announced its foray into medical services, agreeing to spend $3.9 billion to acquire One Medical, a chain of primary care clinics across the United States.

Other cleaning devices from Roomba and iRobot, including robotic grinders and air purifiers, join a portfolio of Amazon-owned smart home devices that include Ring doorbells and Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant and speaker. iRobot also makes an educational robot called Root that lets kids experiment with coding.

Roomba first hit the dirty floor in 2002 to the delight of lazy people and pets, especially cats. The New York Times described it as “simple, effective and fun” and a product that quickly became “a member of the family.”

An early $200 version struggled around corners and chair legs, even falling down stairs. But after 20 years, the Roomba j7 can, the company says, detect more than 80 common objects (including ropes and pet waste), return to its dock when it’s done, and then empty itself. The most expensive option retails for $999.99.

While iRobot is known for its mobile cleaning equipment, the technology that powers these tools also ingests reams of spatial data that is used to map users’ homes. Some digital rights groups have expressed concern that the data could help companies like Amazon extract information about the size of homes and their contents, before branding.

iRobot reported second-quarter 2022 revenue of $255.4 million, down 30 percent from a year earlier. Amazon reported revenue of $121.2 billion in the second quarter, up 7.2 percent from a year earlier, but down slightly from the 7.3 percent revenue growth it posted in the first quarter of this year. It was Amazon’s slowest growth in more than two decades after the company began reducing its high pandemic demand.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.