Amazon abandons plans to buy Roomba maker iRobot

A robot vacuum with mopping arm deployed. The arm is a circular section of the top case of the Roomba with a mop pad on the underside. It presses against the floor when in use.
One of iRobot’s Roombas in action. | Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge

Amazon’s deal to buy Roomba maker iRobot is off, the companies announced today, after iRobot said the deal has “no path to regulatory approval in the European Union.” iRobot is also announcing that it’s laying off around 350 employees, or around 31 percent of its workforce as part of a restructuring.

As part of the announcement, iRobot’s chairman and CEO Colin Angle is stepping down. iRobot’s current executive vice president and chief legal officer Glen Weinstein will serve as interim CEO, and Andrew Miller, formerly lead independent director of the board, will become chairman.

The announcement comes after the $1.4 billion acquisition ran into difficulties with EU regulators. Last November, the European Commission said it believed the deal had the potential to restrict competition in the robot vacuum cleaner market. Many of iRobot’s competitors also sell their devices on Amazon’s online store, and regulators were concerned that Amazon could delist or reduce the visibility of rival robot vacuum cleaners, restricting competition, and “leading to higher prices, lower quality, and less innovation for consumers.”

Amazon had until January 10th to try and convince the European Commission to let the deal go through, but Politico reported that the deadline passed without Amazon offering any concessions. The companies first announced the deal in August 2022 and received the go-ahead from the UK’s competition regulator in June 2023.

The collapse of the deal means Amazon will need to pay a $94 million termination fee to iRobot. But the Roomba manufacturer will need to use the majority of this to pay off a $200 million loan it took out last year, the Financial Times reported at the time.

The deal is one of several major tech acquisitions to have fallen apart in recent years as global regulators ramp up scrutiny. Adobe walked away from its $20 billion deal to buy Figma late last year in the face of pressure from UK and EU regulators, Nvidia formally abandoned its $40 billion Arm deal, citing “significant regulatory challenges” in early 2022, and even Meta was unable to buy Giphy. Microsoft was able to push its deal to buy Activision Blizzard through, but only after first granting concessions to the UK and EU authorities.

In the past, Amazon has been able to make smart home acquisitions with less difficulty. It acquired camera and doorbell company Blink in 2017, home security company Ring in 2018, and mesh router company Eero in 2019. Since then, Amazon has maintained the individual brand names of the companies and has continued to sell competing devices via its online store.

In the time since announcing its plans to buy iRobot, Amazon’s devices and services business has gained a new boss. When the deal was first announced, Dave Limp was still serving as Amazon hardware’s top executive. But as of the end of October 2023, Limp has been replaced by Panos Panay, who moved into the role from Microsoft, while Limp has transitioned to CEO of Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company, Blue Origin.