Commentary

Brrring, Ring, It's Amazon Calling; Here's A Billion For Your Company

Less than five years ago, Jamie Siminoff couldn’t get the panelists on ABC’s “Shark Tank” to bite on his terms for 10% of his start-up for a $700,000 investment. Yesterday, the Ring founder sold the video doorbot to Amazon for a reported $1 billion plus.

So what, exactly, is Ring, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., and how does it work? Check out the short video of a foiled porch piracy on this tweet.

“Amazon bought Ring because of course it did,” reads the headline over Ry Crist’s commentary on the transaction for CNET. Although the announcement “took the tech world by surprise,” upon quick reflection, it shouldn’t have.

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“By scooping up Ring, Amazon also scoops up the doorbell’s existing user base, and perhaps gives some more juice to Amazon Key, a new service that leverages smart home tech to allow for in-home package delivery. Using a smart lock to let a delivery person drop a package off inside your door is an ambitious pitch, and doing more to bring cameras into the equation might help head off potential privacy and safety concerns,” Crist writes.

“The move also helps Amazon further unite its efforts to rule the smart home with its supremacy over retail. With Alexa, Ring and Amazon Key, the retailer can offer a unified smart shopping experience, from the voice order to the warehouse on through to delivery,” he continues.

“Luke Schoenfelder, chief executive of Latch, a start-up that makes a family of smart locks, said he believed that Amazon would make a more serious effort to enter the home security market and compete against companies like ADT, Comcast and Alarm.com. Mr. Schoenfelder speculated that Amazon could seek to make home security part of its Prime membership service, which today includes free and fast delivery of orders and video streaming,” Nick Wingfield writes for the New York Times.

“You could imagine some kind of bundled offering with Ring’s capabilities,” Schoenfelder tells Wingfield, who reports that ADT’s stock dropped 4.6% yesterday.

Ring’s Siminoff tells Forbes’ Susan Adams, “I’m beyond happy [about the deal], incredibly so.”

“Siminoff declined to elaborate before the transaction officially closes. But Amazon is expected to treat Ring as it has similar acquisitions like Zappos and Audible, integrating some elements of Ring with other Amazon-owned products like its virtual digital assistant, Alexa, which already transmits commands to Ring’s products. The Seattle giant will mostly allow Ring to operate independently, according to a Ring spokesperson,” Adams reports.

As for Ring’s origin story, it’s a not-unusual one:

“If not for my wife, the Ring Video Doorbell would not exist. Inventors come up with a lot of bad ideas and she has heard them all. One night I shared my idea for reinventing the doorbell,” writes Siminoff. “She loved it! Not just for the obvious convenience but for the security of now being able to safely answer the door from anywhere. She said. ‘This is like caller ID for the front door.’”

Last fall, “Amazon unveiled its own $119.99 home security camera, Cloud Cam, with a companion Amazon Key app that works with smart locks to let Amazon Prime members give … service providers access to their homes,” GeekWire’s Taylor Soper and Nat Levy report. Other competitors include Arlo and Google’s Nest Cam.

“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," Matt Schreiber, president and chief investment strategist at WBI, tells the Los Angeles Times’ David Pierson and Tracey Lien. “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."

Siminoff’s own feelings about Amazon’s quest for ubiquity are apparently as mixed as most folks.

“In a previous interview with CNBC, … Siminoff described his relationship with Amazon and the Alexa Fund as ‘nuclear power,’ in reference to the company's potential to both help and destroy your business,” writes CNBC.com’s Eugene Kim.

“To say Amazon will not compete with you is lunacy because they compete with everybody,” Siminoff told Kim in September. “They're like nuclear power. They are very, very powerful and you can get amazing, clean energy from them but there’s also the possibility of getting human radiation if you're not careful.”

Siminoff is glowing green this morning.

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