A week ago, we were discussing iRobot’s smart home ambitions as they pertain to the company’s work with Amazon. The company has been highlighted these plans bit by bit over the past couple of years, in the hopes of unlocking Roomba’s potential as a kind of smart home missing link.
Today the company takes a bit of a surprising next step, with the acquisition of Aeris Cleantec AG, a Swiss company best known for its HEPA air purifiers. Certainly the acquisition comports with the company’s core focus of cleaning the home, nearly 20 years after the introduction of its first robotic vacuum.
“Today’s acquisition of Aeris is an important step in iRobot’s strategy to expand our total addressable market and diversify our product portfolio in ways that will provide consumers with new ways to keep their homes cleaner and healthier," CEO Colin Angle said in a release. “We are enthusiastic about the growth potential for Aeris’ products, especially as the pandemic has raised greater consumer awareness of the value of maintaining a cleaner, healthier home. We are also excited about the potential to leverage our Genius Home Intelligence platform and existing ecosystem of home robots to bring the iRobot experience to air purification.”
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It’s worth noting, as we did last week, that most of iRobot’s successful non-Roomba lines have derived from acquisitions, including Braava and Root, which were purchased by the company in 2012 and 2019, respectively.
Air purification is undoubtedly a topic that’s been at top of mind over the past two years, courtesy of the pandemic. Though, even prior to this, the category was booming, with the advent of things like connected smart home filters. Aeris’ flagship products the Lite and 3-in-1 Pro both offer a connected smartphone app for monitoring device health, as well as controlling multiple connected machines.
That last bit likely provides a glimpse into iRobot’s bigger plans. Without its own smart speaker, the company is almost certainly looking for some manner of smart home device that can serve as a connected beacon. That’s something that could potentially -- albeit expensively -- be served by air purifiers. Perhaps down the road we might also see Aeris’ purification technology built into Roomba docking stations.
The deal has already closed, according to iRobot, with the company paying $72 million in cash for Aeris. "In addition to this initial cash consideration," the company notes, "the deal has a provision to pay a modest performance-based earn-out should Aeris achieve certain targets next year."