Lawmakers urge FTC to oppose Amazon’s $1.65 billion proposed acquisition of iRobot

Roomba robot vacuums made by iRobot are displayed on a shelf at a Bed Bath and Beyond store on August 05, 2022 in Larkspur, California. Amazon announced plans to purchase iRobot, maker of the popular robotic vacuum Roomba, for an estimated $1.7 billion. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A group of lawmakers is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to oppose Amazon’s proposed $1.65 billion acquisition of iRobot, citing concerns about the tech giant’s anticompetitive practices. 

“iRobot is a powerful market incumbent, and Amazon, given its vast resources, history of producing smart vacuums through Terra, and powerful platform, is an extraordinarily significant ‘potential entrant’ into the market: Amazon’s ability to acquire iRobot would cause substantially less competition,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to FTC chairwoman Lina Khan on Wednesday.

The letter was signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Chuy García (D-lll.). 

The lawmakers wrote in their letter that Amazon has failed to protect consumers and consumer privacy with its popular Alexa voice system, and noted concerns about its partnership with over 600 law enforcement agencies through its Ring video doorbells.

“Amazon’s acquisition of iRobot would give the company access to the inside of homes through Roomba’s mapping technology, building on the access it bought with the Ring and Blink purchases in 2017 and 2018 and effectively giving Amazon ‘eyes and ears’ inside the home – the stated goal of the company since at least 2017,” the lawmakers added.

Lawmakers also noted that the tech giant tried to compete with iRobot with their own version of iRobot’s flagship Roomba vacuum, but the products were put on indefinite hold in 2020 due to lackluster sales.

“I have serious concerns about the Amazon-iRobot deal – dominant companies like Amazon shouldn’t be allowed to just buy their way out of competing,” Warren said in a statement.

The lawmakers’ letter says the company has repeatedly used a “Copy-Acquire-Kill” strategy to kill off rivals, citing Amazon’s previous acquisitions of Blink, Ring, and Kiva Systems. 

The FTC earlier this month began its review of Amazon’s proposed acquisition of the iRobot, which reportedly has a 75 percent share of the smart vacuum market.  

The Hill has reached out to Amazon for comment on the letter to Khan.

Tags acquisition deal Amazon Elizabeth Warren Elizabeth Warren Federal Trade Commission iRobot Katie Porter Lina Khan Lina Khan Mark Pocan mergers and acquisitions Mondaire Jones Pramila Jayapal tech antitrust

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