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Andy Jassy Voices Disappointment Over Failed Amazon-iRobot Acquisition

ByHuey Yee Ong

Apr 15, 2024
Andy Jassy Voices Disappointment Over Failed Amazon-iRobot Acquisition

Andy Jassy Voices Disappointment Over Failed Amazon-iRobot Acquisition

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has openly criticized regulatory actions against tech mergers, with particular focus on the halted acquisition of iRobot, known for its Roomba vacuum cleaners.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Jassy voiced his disappointment, suggesting that regulators are showing undue favoritism towards Chinese companies over Amazon in the realm of consumer privacy within U.S. homes. This comment comes in the wake of Amazon abandoning its $1.7 billion plan to acquire iRobot, a move compelled by antitrust concerns from Europe’s watchdogs and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The Consequences of a Failed Deal

The breakdown of this deal has had severe repercussions for iRobot, leading to a 31% reduction in its workforce and a dramatic fall in share value, losing over three-quarters of its price this year. Jassy argues that the blockage of the iRobot deal not only impacts Amazon but also inadvertently benefits non-U.S. competitors in the robotic vacuum market, notably Chinese companies like Anker, Ecovacs, and Roborock, as well as SharkNinja, which have been encroaching on iRobot’s market dominance.

The intervention in tech mergers is part of a global trend where regulators are taking a firmer stance against the expansion of Big Tech, underpinned by the Biden administration’s prioritization of antitrust enforcement in the sector. This has led to a slowdown in significant tech mergers, pushing companies towards investments in artificial intelligence (AI) startups as alternative growth avenues.

Amazon’s recent increase in investment in AI startup Anthropic by $2.75 billion exemplifies this shift, mirroring moves by other tech giants like Google and Microsoft towards AI innovations, including significant investments in OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT.

However, regulatory bodies have not limited their scrutiny to acquisitions. The FTC has initiated inquiries into tech companies’ partnerships and investments in AI, marking a broader concern over their influence in the market. Amazon itself faces a lawsuit from the FTC, alleging the company’s operations of its third-party marketplace constitute an illegal monopoly that suppresses competition and raises prices for consumers, highlighting the platform’s dominance in Amazon’s e-commerce business.

Tackling the Challenge of Fraudulent Returns

Furthermore, Amazon’s marketplace has been a focal point for issues surrounding fraudulent returns, a significant problem for retailers, with losses exceeding $101 billion last year. Despite Amazon’s efforts to mitigate these issues through dedicated teams examining returned goods, the challenge persists due to the platform’s vast scale.

In his interview, Jassy appealed for a more reasonable regulatory approach towards Big Tech, indicating that the current regulatory atmosphere might hinder rather than help innovation and market competition. His comments underscore the ongoing tension between large tech corporations and regulatory authorities, navigating the complex landscape of privacy, competition, and innovation in the digital age.

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Featured Image courtesy of Bloomberg via Getty Images

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.

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