Amazon Abandons $1.4 Billion Deal To Buy Roomba Maker iRobot

Amazon’s deal to buy Roomba maker iRobot is off, the companies announced today, after iRobot said the deal has “no path to regulatory approval in the European Union.” iRobot is also announcing that it is laying off around 330 employees, or around 31 percent of its workforce as part of a restructuring. It expects to notify the majority of affected employees by the end of March, The Verge reported.

As part of the announcement, iRobot chair and CEO Colin Angle, who co-founded the company in 1990, is stepping down from both roles. iRobot’s current executive vice president and chief legal officer, Glen Weinstein, will serve as interim CEO, and Andrew Miller, formerly lead independent director of the board, will become chair.

As part of the restructuring, iRobot is pausing its work on devices outside of its core floor-cleaning product lineup like air purifies and lawn mowers, and closing offices and facilities in “smaller, underperforming geographies.”

The announcement comes after the $1.4 billion acquisition ran into difficulties with EU regulators. Last November, the European Commission said it believed the deal had the potential to restrict competition in the robot cleaner market. Many of iRobot’s competitors also sell their devices on Amazon’s online store, and regulators were concerned that Amazon would delist or reduce the visibility of rival robot vacuum cleaners, restricting competition and “leading to higher prices, lower quality, and less innovation for consumers.”

TechCrunch reported a year and a half after announcing its intention to acquire iRobot, Amazon’s deal is officially dead. All parties involved anticipated some level of regulatory scrutiny, but after a few decades of the company consolidation, few expected this much friction.

The deal had already passed through select international regulatory bodies, including the U.K. Ultimately, however the European Union’s recent clamping down on perceived anti-competitive M&As proved to be the final nail in the coffin.

“iRobot is an innovative pioneer with a clear vision to make consumer robots a reality,” Angle said in a release. “The termination of the agreement with Amazon is disappointing, but iRobot now turns toward the future with a focus and commitment to continue building thoughtful robots and intelligent home innovations that make life better, and that our customers around the world love.”

Mashable reported that Amazon will be fine after the termination of this deal. However, the same cannot be said for iRobot. When Amazon first announced its intention to acquire the Roomba-maker in August 2022, it was seen as somewhat of a bailout for iRobot.

Personally, I love our little Roomba cleaner, and am hoping it will continue working for a long time. That said, it is always sad when workers lose their jobs due to things beyond their control.