Amazon’s iRobot deal faces renewed scrutiny from Dems • TechCrunch
A new letter penned by Senate and House Democrats accuses Amazon of “anticompetitive” practices in its bid to purchase Roomba-maker, iRobot, for $1.7 billion. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is leading the charge to convince the Federal Trade Commission to reject the deal, according to a report from Axios.
“Rather than compete in a fair marketplace on its own merits, Amazon is following a familiar anticompetitive playbook: leveraging its massive market share and access to capital to buy or suppress popular products,” notes the letter cosigned by fellow congressional Democrats, Mondaire Jones, Mark Pocan Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia, Pramila Jayapal and Katie Porter.
The report arrives during a moment of increased regulatory scrutiny for the online retail giant. Both the planned iRobot and One Medical deals have raised antitrust concerns among lawmakers. The FTC has notable already been investigating both. Amazon has seemingly been more aggressively pursuing acquisitions under new CEO Andy Jassy, at a time when the regulatory body has pushed to block similar deals by big tech. Most notably, FTC chairwoman Lina Khan recently sued to block Meta/Facebook’s acquisition of VR firm, Within Unlimited, citing anticompetitive concerns.
The deal is at the center of Amazon’s plans to aggressively push into the home robotics category, in much the same way its 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems helped it become a dominant force in industrial robotics. Amazon’s offering in the category is currently limited to the home robot Astro, but folding iRobot into the department would find the firm dominating the space overnight. iRobot’s Roomba is the rare home robot that has managed to break into mainstream use.
Given Amazon’s history and iRobot’s home mapping, the deal has also raised concern among privacy advocates.
TechCrunch has reached out to both Amazon and Senator Warren’s office for comment.