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

With investments in so many industries -- retail, grocery, hardware, AI -- it's not a stretch to imagine a future where someone can tell Alexa to buy groceries, a delivery worker can pick up the food from an Amazon-owned Whole Foods, and a customer can monitor doorstep delivery via Ring.

"This is like 'I, Robot,'" Schreiber said, referring to the 2004 science fiction film in which humans create robots to serve as personal assistants. "Hopefully the robots won't take over, though. That would be terrifying."

One of the newest, and most controversial, experiments includes Amazon Key, a service that allows couriers to enter homes to drop off packages. If successful, it could eradicate package theft. If unsuccessful, it could erode consumer trust in Amazon's business.

Ring's camera-equipped doorbells could give hesitant Amazon shoppers some reassurance in letting strangers open their doors.

"This shows how serious Amazon is about privacy and security," said Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush, who thinks Ring will give Amazon a jumping-off point to expand even further into home security.

"With Ring, you can set camera zones," Pachter added. "You can pull it up on your phone, trigger a light, and see what your camera sees. There's no reason why it can't trigger an alarm too."

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Siminoff came up with the idea for a video-enabled doorbell after he realized he couldn't hear his front door ring while brainstorming business ideas inside the garage of his Pacific Palisades home.

Despite the "Shark Tank" setback, his TV appearance in November 2013 sparked an uptick in sales, giving the company new life.

"Nothing ever will supersede 'Shark Tank.' We'd have been gone," Siminoff told The Times last year.

Ring has raised more than $200 million in funding and counts Richard Branson among its investors. The company has also received capital from Amazon's Alexa Fund, which invests in companies developing voice-enabled technology.


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