Amazon has decided to buy the famous robot vacuum cleaner maker Roomba for $61 per share in cash, in a deal that values iRobot at $1.7 billion, reports CNBC.
Closing the deal will strengthen Amazon’s presence in consumer robotics. The company made a bold bet on the industry last year when it introduced the Astro home robot, a $1,449.99 device equipped with the company’s digital assistant Alexa that can follow consumers around their homes. The company also offers a range of smart home devices, such as Ring doorbells, the manufacturer of which was bought in 2018, as well as voice-activated thermometers and microwave ovens.
“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,” said in a statement about the purchase Dave Limp, Amazon’s head of hardware. “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.”
The acquisition is Amazon’s fourth-largest after its $13.7 billion purchase of grocery chain Whole Foods in 2017, last year’s $8.45 billion purchase of movie studio MGM and its announced $3.9 billion acquisition of primary care provider One Medical last month.
Founded in 1990 by MIT roboticists, iRobot is best known for creating the Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner released in 2002 that can clean consumers’ floors on its own. The manufacturer also introduced robotic mops and pool cleaners. iRobot has a subscription program that offers automatic equipment refills among other services.
iRobot CEO Colin Engle will continue to lead the company after the deal closes. However, the purchase will not happen immediately, as it still needs approval from regulators and iRobot shareholders.
Amazon is buying iRobot at a time when the robot maker has faced difficulties. On Friday, the company reported second-quarter results that showed a 30% drop in revenue from a year earlier, mainly due to “unexpected order reductions, delays and cancellations” from retailers in North America and Europe, the Middle East and Africa.