Thursday, October 6, 2022
Home Deals iRobot and Amazon agree to share data with FTC on $1.7B deal

iRobot and Amazon agree to share data with FTC on $1.7B deal

After Amazon made a blockbuster of a deal to acquire Roomba-maker iRobot in August, it looked like Amazon was primed to suddenly dominate the consumer robotics industry. However, earlier this month, Politico reported that the deal won’t go through unless the Federal Trade Commission approves.

Weeks in already, like a Roomba in a dusty basement, the FTC’s investigation already looks like it won’t finish without some serious back and forth. On Tuesday, the FTC announced in a regulatory filing that it needs more information before it gives Amazon the go-ahead.

The filing cites a federal regulation specifying that the FTC is requesting “any soliciting material published, sent or given to security holders.”

According to the Associated Press, the FTC is requesting more data on the deal “amid growing concerns” about Amazon’s “market power.” It appears that the FTC is considering the iRobot acquisition alongside its investigations into other recent Amazon blockbuster deals, like its acquisition of One Medical.

The FTC’s investigation comes after approximately 20 labor and privacy groups raised the alarm to oppose the buyout, asking antitrust regulators to intervene, according to Reuters. Among their top concerns is the notion that iRobot’s popular Roombas and other consumer robotics could gather even more data for Amazon when it already dominates retail spaces—allowing it to further choke out competitors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filing today shows that both Amazon and iRobot plan to cooperate with the FTC’s investigation. Amazon declined to comment to Ars, and iRobot directed Ars to its investor page documenting all its SEC filings.

Although much focus is on what Amazon gets out of the buyout, in another SEC filing, iRobot shared with employees and contractors what they expect to get out of the deal:

“Amazon has an inventive, customer-centric, long-term oriented culture where entrepreneurs thrive,” iRobot wrote in a letter to staff. “By joining the Amazon family, we will be empowered to accelerate our businesses and delight customers with the help of Amazon’s resources and technology.”

Until the FTC concludes its investigation, the deal cannot be closed. AP reported that data shared with the FTC could prompt the agency to attempt to block the buyout in court, proceed by seeking remedies from the tech companies, or take no action at all and simply allow the deal to go on as planned.

The FTC declined to comment to Ars. Politico previously reported on the projected timeline of the investigation, though, reporting that “the companies are bracing for a potentially lengthy, arduous investigation, according to two people with knowledge of the probe.”

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