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TL;DR: Amazon in a surprise announcement said it has agreed to acquire Roomba maker iRobot. The all-cash transaction is valued at approximately $1.7 billion, or $61 per share, and represents a 22 percent premium over iRobot's closing price of $49.99 at the end of trading on Thursday.
The deal gives Amazon a stronger foothold in the field of robots. Last year, the e-commerce giant launched a consumer home robot named Astro designed to serve as a mobile security camera, an entertainment hub and a communications tool.
The Wi-Fi connected, Snapdragon-powered bot features stereo speakers, dual cameras, a 10-inch touchscreen and even a USB-C port. Astro can only be purchased by invite and will set you back $999.99 during the ongoing introductory period. After that, expect to pay $1,449.99 for an opportunity that not everyone believes is ready for mainstream audiences.
Amazon has also invested in other gadgets designed to make life easier such as the Ring doorbell and its array of Alexa-powered speakers. Amazon's acquisition of iRobot, however, is substantially larger than Ring and represents one of the largest moves yet by newly minted CEO Andy Jassy, who replaced founder Jeff Bezos at the helm a little over a year ago.
Dave Limp, SVP of Amazon Devices, said they are excited to work with the iRobot team to invent in ways that make customers' lives easier and more enjoyable.
iRobot was founded way back in 1990 by Colin Angle, Rodney Brooks and Helen Greiner, who previous worked in MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab. Its first robotic vacuum cleaners for consumers arrived in 2002, and the company went public in 2005. iRobot also has a line of mopping robots for hard-surface floors and has added multiple features to its vacuums including automatic dust bin emptying.
Per usual, the deal will be subject to customary closing conditions including shareholder and regulatory approval. iRobot's Colin Angle will remain as CEO post-acquisition, we're told.
Image credit: Kindel Media