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

Feb. 28, 2018

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. 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.

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.

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.

Los Angeles Times has the full story

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