Just two months after acquiring wireless home-security camera company Blink, Amazon doubled down on its investment in home security and home access control, buying Santa Monica, Calif.-based Ring, well known for its industry-leading video doorbell and related products. We have known Jamie Siminoff and Ring since the company had fewer than 20 employees and could not come away with a deal on Shark Tank back in 2013. No specific valuation numbers have been disclosed, but reports peg the transaction value at well north of $1 billion. A nice payday for Ring’s many high-profile backers, which include Sir Richard Branson and Amazon’s own Alexa Fund, as well as for Jamie who gets the ultimate “I told you so”. Also, a great valuation for aspiring companies in the “internet of things” and residential technology sector.
On the surface, this acquisition marks the tech and eCommerce giant’s latest attempt to dominate and disrupt the rapidly-expanding market for internet-connected home devices. But are these moves less about product expansion and more about Amazon’s ever-increasing access inside your home?
Consider that before the Ring acquisition, millions of Americans wake up to Alexa’s voice, place orders on Amazon and receive Amazon deliveries, and eat meals they bought at Whole Foods while watching something on Amazon Prime video (sound familiar?). This is the obvious engagement we all have with Amazon; most people do not realize that Netflix and other streamed content is hosted on Amazon’s Web servers, creating yet another set of tentacles to track consumer behavior. To say that Amazon is fully integrated into our digital lives is an understatement.
The Ring acquisition plays directly into this strategy in our view. Now, in addition to enabling much of our in-home digital life, Amazon will know when you are away and will gain control of a network of millions of front door cameras (and billions of hours of video) from neighborhoods all over the U.S. and a massive amount of related data. On the surface, it’s a nice tuck into Amazon’s Alexa-based home technology portfolio, and is a shrewd move to compete with Google, but is this really about Amazon’s reported strategy of having its delivery network enter homes to deliver packages? While this may be scary for some, Ring could enable safe and controlled access for its drivers, further automating people’s lives and increasing our reliance on this juggernaut.
What else will Amazon be doing inside and outside our homes? It will be interesting to see how this plays out over time.