iRobot, known best as the company behind the successful line of Roomba automated vacuums, announced earlier this morning its acquisition by Amazon. The all-in cash buyout of around $1.7 billion reportedly includes the entirety of iRobot’s net debt, and ensures the company’s current CEO, Colin Angle, remains in his position. This follows recent plans to acquire healthcare group One Medical for $4 billion.
“Over many years, the iRobot team has proven its ability to reinvent how people clean with products that are incredibly practical and inventive—from cleaning when and where customers want while avoiding common obstacles in the home, to automatically emptying the collection bin,” Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices, said in the statement. “Customers love iRobot products—and I’m excited to work with the iRobot team to invent in ways that make customers’ lives easier and more enjoyable.”
Since the company’s debut in 2012, iRobot’s flagship Roomba home vacuum has quickly become a tiny, roving symbol of consumers’ increasing interest in “smart home” technologies. This market is, unsurprisingly, of great interest to Jeff Bezos and Amazon for many reasons. As it made clear almost a year ago, Amazon wants as big a space as possible in the rising smart home economy—and not just to create “practical and inventive” ways to automate living.
By far, businesses’ most valuable aspect of any smart home is the copious amounts of data collected by products like smart thermostats, robot vacuums, and lighting systems. Basically, any product that requires you to click a Terms & Conditions’ “I Agree” button is a goldmine for companies looking to glean more information about consumer habits, preferences, and spending trends. Amazon knows this better than anyone, and clearly sees a potential in sweeping up iRobot.