Science & Technology



With sale to Amazon, doorbell start-up Ring goes from 'Shark Tank' reject to L.A. tech scene's latest success

David Pierson and Tracey Lien, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Science & Technology News

If Amazon succeeds in turning Alexa into the brains of the modern smart home, then Ring will provide the eyes.

In a deal that expands Amazon's network of internet-connected household gadgets -- and with it, the e-commerce giant's reach into customers' homes -- the Seattle company has agreed to buy Ring, a Santa Monica maker of high-tech doorbells, for a reported $1 billion.

Ring doorbells are already being used by 2 million customers. Its improbable success comes five years after its founder, serial entrepreneur Jamie Siminoff, was rejected on the TV show "Shark Tank."

But the company proved there was demand for video-enabled doorbells, which enable users to see outside their homes via smartphone or computer. The technology provides a sense of security and a salve for one of the most nagging problems in the e-commerce era: package thieves.

That's a huge benefit for Amazon, which has revolutionized the way people shop and the way goods are delivered.

But there's more to this acquisition than protecting parcels, analysts say.

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Amazon has been quietly acquiring technology to bolster its smart home capabilities.

Amazon has in recent years focused extensively on Alexa, the popular home speaker that also doubles as an artificial intelligence device that can answer questions and make Amazon purchases. In 2015 the company acquired smart lawn sprinkler company Rachio. That same year it also acquired home security company Scout Alarm.

"Amazon's really watering the grass, so to speak, to grow into our homes and become more integrated in our lives in ways we haven't even fathomed yet," said Matt Schreiber, president and chief investment strategist at WBI. "This isn't just about Ring's doorbell technology. It ties into all the acquisitions they've quietly made over the years.

"They've envisioned Alexa as your personal assistant, as your butler, as the hired help without having a hired help. This is the help for everyone on the planet, and they're not done yet."


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